Tanker is hit by Houthi cruise missile in the Red Sea

BREAKING NEWS Tanker is hit by Houthi cruise missile in the Red Sea: US warship heads to support vessel targeted in latest ship attack

A Norwegian-flagged tanker has been hit by a cruise missile launched by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea in their latest attack on ships to protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.  

US military Central Command said the anti-tank cruise missile, launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, hit the Strinda last night and the destroyer USS Mason is providing assistance. 

The Iran-backed rebels targeted the Strinda tanker with a rocket after the crew refused to respond to all warnings, Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sareea said in a televised statement. 

He vowed that the Houthis would continue blocking ships heading to Israeli ports until Israel allows the entry of food and medical aid into the Gaza Strip – more than 1,000 miles from the Houthi seat of power in Sanaa.

The attack on the tanker Strinda took place about 60 nautical miles (111km) north of the crucial Bab al-Mandab Strait separating East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula at about 9pm (GMT), a US official said. A second US official said the Strinda was able to move under its own power in the hours after the attack.

Geir Belsnes, chief executive of the Strinda’s operator J Ludwig Mowinckels Rederi, said: ‘All crew members are unhurt and safe. The vessel is now proceeding to a safe port.’

The oil and chemical tanker was coming from Malaysia and was bound for the Suez Canal.

US military Central Command said an anti-ship cruise missile ‘launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen’ hit the Strinda and the destroyer USS Mason (pictured in 2021) was providing assistance

The Houthi spokesman said that the group had managed to obstruct the passage of several ships in recent days, acting in support of the Palestinians.

The Houthis have waded into the Israel-Hamas conflict – which has spread around the Middle East since October 7 – attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and firing drones and missiles at Israel itself.

On Saturday, the Houthis said they would target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports. 

The chemical tanker is Norway flagged, and its Norwegian owner, Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, and manager Hansa Tankers could not be immediately reached for comment outside office hours. 

The Strinda had loaded vegetable oil and biofuels in Malaysia and was headed for Venice, Italy, data from shiptracking firm Kpler showed. It was not immediately clear whether the STRINDA had any ties to Israel.

The group, which rules much of Yemen, says its attacks are a show of support for the Palestinians and has vowed they will continue until Israel stops its offensive on the Gaza Strip – more than 1,000 miles from the Houthi seat of power in Sanaa. 

The Houthis are one of several groups in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” that have been taking aim at Israeli and U.S. targets since their Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel.

During the first week of December, three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters, prompting a U.S. Navy destroyer to intervene.

The Houthis also seized last month a British-owned cargo ship that had links with an Israeli company.  

The United States and Britain have condemned the attacks on shipping, blaming Iran for its role in supporting the Houthis. Tehran says its allies make their decisions independently.

Saudi Arabia has asked the United States to show restraint in responding to the attacks.

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