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3 Houthi boats sunk by U.S. navy in Red Sea after attempted hijack

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The United States’ Central Command said its navy forces responded Sunday to a distress call from a merchant boat in the Red Sea reporting being under Yemeni Houthi attack, sinking three Houthi boats and killing all their crews.

The Singapore-flagged “container ship MAERSK HANGZHOU issued a second distress call in less than 24 hours reporting being under attack by four Iranian-backed Houthi small boats … originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen,” the U.S. Central Command wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The Houthi militants fired “small arms weapons at the MAERSK HANGZHOU, getting to within 20 meters of the vessel, and attempted to board the vessel,” it said.

“U.S. helicopters from the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and GRAVELY (DDG 107) responded to the distress call and in the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters … The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews. The fourth boat fled the area,” it said.

“There was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment,” the U.S. Central Command added.

Hours earlier, the U.S. Central Command said that the container ship reported that it was struck by a missile while transiting the southern Red Sea and there were no injuries among its crew.

“While responding, the USS GRAVELY shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen toward the ships,” the U.S. Central Command said in a post on X.

“This is the 23rd illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since Nov. 19,” it added.

The Houthis have made no comment yet.

The Houthi militia has escalated their attacks on ships since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7, demanding that food and medicine aid be allowed to enter the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

The Houthi rebel militia controls much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.


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