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Armed men stand on the beach as the Galaxy Leader commercial ship, seized by Yemen's Houthis last month, is anchored off the coast of al-Salif, Yemen, December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Armed men stand on the beach as the Galaxy Leader commercial ship, seized by Yemen's Houthis last month, is anchored off the coast of al-Salif, Yemen, December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Houthis Attack Commercial Ship in the Indian Ocean

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1193
April 30, 2024

Maritime authorities are reporting that a MSC containership sustained minor damage from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the Indian Ocean approximately 300 nautical miles southeast of the Horn of Africa.

The incident appears to be the first Houthi attack on a commercial ship beyond the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden after the Yemen-based terrorist group threatened to expand its attacks into Indian Ocean.

The attack, which took place on the night of April 26, targeted the Portugal-flagged containership MSC Orion, reportedly targeted due to its affiliation with Israel. The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Joint Maritime Information Center (JIMC) reports that the vessel sustained minor damage, and all crew members are safe.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations office was notified about the incident by the ship’s master.

The Iranian-backed Houthi group has been launching drone and missile attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea region since mid-November, under the pretense of solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

Martin Kelly, Head of Advisory at EOS Risk Group, said the incident follows a series of unconfirmed attacks claimed by the Houthis in the Indian Ocean.

Notably, the Houthis in March announced their intent to extend their attacks to ships in Indian Ocean, including those rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope. Since then, the group claimed to have attacked several vessels in the Indian Ocean, including the Portugal-flagged MSC Veracruz on April 24 and two MSC vessels on April 7, namely the MSC Grace F and MSC Gina.

“JMIC’s report is the first of its kind which confirms an attack by the Houthis beyond the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea since the Houthis begun attack ships on 19 November 2023,” Kelly wrote on X.

The confirmed incident signals a possible major escalation of Houthi attacks on shipping, despite international efforts led by the United States to curb the attacks.

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