Houthi rebels set British oil tanker ablaze in Gulf of Aden

Yemeni naval forces claim responsibility for the attack

The Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen, have claimed to have launched a missile strike on a British oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, causing a fire to break out on the vessel. The attack occurred on Friday, amid escalating tensions in the region over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Houthi military spokesperson, Yahya Sarea, said in a statement that their naval forces targeted the oil tanker Marlin Luanda, which they labelled a “British oil ship”. He said they used “appropriate naval missiles, the strike was direct, and resulted in the burning of the vessel”.

However, shipping data suggests the tanker sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands, and was carrying Russian fuel. The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported an incident 60 nautical miles south-east of Aden on Friday, saying “vessel and crew are safe and no damage reported”.

UK and US condemn Houthi attacks on shipping

The Houthi attack on the oil tanker is the latest in a series of assaults on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which are vital routes for global trade. The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on ships since November, in protest against Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering the lives of civilians and the stability of the region. The UK and the US have condemned the Houthi attacks as illegal and unacceptable, and have imposed sanctions on key figures in the Iran-backed militant group.

British oil

The UK and the US have also carried out several airstrikes on Houthi targets, in coordination with the Saudi-led coalition that supports the internationally recognised government of Yemen. The coalition has been fighting the Houthis since 2015, when they ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and seized the capital, Sanaa.

Foreign Secretary urges diplomatic solution to end Yemen crisis

The Houthi attack on the oil tanker comes as the Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, is finishing a trip to the Middle East, in a diplomatic bid to reduce tensions as the Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues. Lord Cameron has met with leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, to discuss the situation in Yemen and the wider region.

Lord Cameron has called for a ceasefire and a political solution to end the Yemen crisis, which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with millions of people facing famine, disease and displacement. He has also urged the Houthis to stop their attacks on civilian targets and to engage in UN-led peace talks.

Lord Cameron has also expressed his support for the efforts of the US envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, who has been shuttling between the parties to broker a deal. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has also been trying to revive the stalled peace process, which has been hampered by the lack of trust and the fragmentation of the conflict.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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