DUBAI Oct 2 Arab coalition forces have launched
operations against militia boats of Yemen's Houthi group that
struck a civilian logistics ship on a humanitarian voyage in a
strategic Red Sea shipping lane, the Saudi-led alliance said.
The vessel, an Australian-built high speed logistics
catamaran under lease to the United Arab Emirates military, was
attacked by Houthi fighters near the Bab al-Mandab strait off
Yemen's southern coast on Saturday. The coalition rescued its
civilian passengers. No crew were hurt.
In a statement late on Saturday, the coalition said the
vessel belonged to the UAE Marine Dredging Company "on its usual
route to and from Aden to transfer relief and medical aid and
evacuate wounded civilians to complete their treatment outside
"Coalition air and naval forces were targeting Houthi
militia boats involved in the attack," it said.
The coalition said the incident showed that Houthi tactics
involved what it called "terrorist attacks" against civilian
international navigation in the waterway.
Hundreds of Emirati soldiers in an Arab alliance have been
fighting Yemen's Iran-allied Houthis, who control the capital,
and training Yemeni troops in Aden to help rebuild a state loyal
to exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The Houthis, however, said on Saturday their forces had
destroyed a UAE military vessel that was advancing towards the
Red Sea port of Al-Mokha.
"Armed forces destroyed with a missile a military vessel
belonging to the forces of the UAE," a military official was
quoted as saying by the Saba Yemeni news agency, run by the
dominant Houthi movement since it seized Sanaa last year.
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil per day passed
through the 20 km (12 mile) wide Bab al-Mandab strait, according
to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A senior Emirati commander was among dozens killed in a
Tochka rocket strike in 2015 on an army camp near Bab al-Mandab,
one of the bloodiest setbacks for Gulf forces in months of
(Reporting by William Maclean. Editing by Jane Merriman)