Thursday, May 30, 2024

Yemen rebels attack ship full of grain bound for Iran | TOME


The recent attack on the Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Laax by Yemen’s Houthi militia has once again highlighted the ongoing tensions in the Red Sea corridor. The vessel, which was carrying a cargo of grain, was bound for Iran, a key supporter of the Houthi group.

The attack on the Laax is part of a series of assaults on shipping in the region by the Houthis, who claim that their actions are aimed at pressuring Israel and the West over the conflict in Gaza. As a result of these attacks, shipping through the Red Sea corridor has significantly decreased, impacting vessels associated with Iran, China, and Russia.

Initially, the Laax had listed its destination as Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. However, it was later revealed that the vessel was actually headed for Bandar Khomeini, Iran. French naval forces based in the UAE, who patrol the Middle East region, confirmed that the grain shipment onboard the Laax was indeed destined for Iran.

The attack on the Laax involved both drones and missiles, causing significant damage to the vessel. Images released by the French navy showed damage to the waterline and deck of the bulk carrier. The assault, which lasted for several hours, saw five missiles hitting the Laax, according to reports from private security firm LSS-SAPU.

LSS-SAPU, which had armed security guards onboard the Laax at the time of the attack, stated that there was no prior warning from the Houthis. The crew of the vessel included 13 Filipinos and one Ukrainian, as confirmed by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers.

The Houthi militia has been increasingly targeting shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, demanding an end to the conflict in Gaza. Their actions have resulted in over 50 attacks on vessels, leading to casualties and disruptions in maritime trade. The US Maritime Administration reported that three sailors have been killed, one vessel seized, and another sunk by the Houthis since November.

In a separate incident, a US MQ-9 Reaper drone reportedly crashed in Yemen, with the Houthis claiming responsibility for shooting it down with a surface-to-air missile. The US Air Force did not report any missing aircraft, raising suspicions that the drone may have been operated by the CIA. This incident adds to concerns about escalating tensions in the region.

The attack on the Laax and other recent incidents highlight the volatile situation in the Red Sea corridor and the risks faced by vessels navigating through these waters. It underscores the need for heightened security measures and international cooperation to ensure the safety of maritime trade routes in the region.

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