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Houthi Missile Attack Hits Merchant Ship in Red Sea, Escalating Tensions

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In a recent development, a merchant vessel sailing in the southern Red Sea became the target of a land-based cruise missile fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen, as confirmed by a U.S. official. The incident marks the latest in a series of escalations by Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen, who have been actively launching missiles and drones, specifically targeting ships in the region, displaying support for Hamas in the ongoing conflict with Israel.

According to the U.S. Central Command, the missile strike resulted in damage to the merchant ship, named Motor Transport STRINDA, causing an on-board fire. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in connection with the attack.

This event follows a similar act of aggression in mid-November, where Houthi commandos seized the Bahamian-flagged Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea, alleging its association with Israel. The ship, along with its multinational crew, remains in the port of Hodeida in Yemen, where it was taken following the seizure.

The U.S. official, speaking to the news, confirmed that the land-based cruise missile, originating from Houthi-controlled Yemen, struck the Motor Transport STRINDA approximately 60 nautical miles north of the Bab-al-Mandab. This strategic location is the narrow strait between Yemen and the northeast coast of Africa.

Earlier on the same day, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations received a report detailing an attack on a commercial vessel sailing just 15 nautical miles west of the port of Mocha in Yemen. The assault caused damage and triggered a fire on board, but, fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Significantly, no U.S. Navy ships were in the vicinity at the time of the attack. However, the destroyer USS Mason has been dispatched to the scene to provide necessary assistance.

Over the past weeks, both the USS Mason and the destroyer USS Carney have been actively engaged in various incidents, including intercepting Houthi missiles or drones targeting commercial ships or Israel.

In response to the escalating threat in the region, the U.S. is currently in discussions with other nations to form a multinational task force aimed at safeguarding commercial ships navigating through these troubled waters. U.S. officials have openly declared that the country reserves the right to respond to Houthi attacks at a time and place of its choosing.

As tensions rise in the Red Sea, with merchant ships becoming targets in the ongoing conflict, the international community closely watches the evolving situation. The establishment of a multinational task force reflects the urgency of securing vital sea routes in the region and ensuring the safety of maritime trade amidst these turbulent times.

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