Saudi-led coalition says Yemeni rebel boat attack foiled

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it foiled a booby-trapped boat attack by Iran-aligned Huthi rebels on a commercial ship in the Red Sea on Monday.

“The naval forces of the coalition managed to thwart an (attack) by the Huthi militia targeting a commercial ship in the southern waters of the Red Sea, using an unmanned booby-trapped boat,” a coalition spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“The coalition forces spotted the unmanned boat… then intercepted and destroyed it,” he added.

The Huthis rejected the claim, calling it “completely baseless”, according to the group’s Al-Masirah TV.

The coalition, which has been fighting the rebels since March 2015, have long accused the Huthis and the Iranian revolutionary guards of threatening international navigation routes and world trade.

Last year Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, halted exports through the Bab al-Mandeb as a result of a Huthi attack on a tanker in the strategic waterway, before resuming them 10 days later.

Bab al-Mandeb is a crucial shipping lane between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

More recent attacks on tankers in the Straits of Hormuz — a vital passage for world oil supplies on the other side of the Arab peninsula — which the US blamed on Iran have spiked regional tensions.

Iran has denied responsibility for the attacks.

Yemen’s conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, according to relief agencies, and triggered what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst existing humanitarian crisis.