Indian Navy rescues crew of "True Confidence" - photo credits @ Twitter/ Indiannavy

Houthis claim responsibility for deadly attack on merchant ship in Red Sea

Three seafarers were tragically killed in the first fatal attack by Houthi rebels on a civilian ship in the Red Sea, according to US authorities. The attack, which targeted the Liberian-owned bulk carrier "True Confidence," marks a significant escalation in tensions along the vital shipping route.

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The US Central Command (Centcom) confirmed the attack late Wednesday, stating that Houthi forces launched an anti-ship ballistic missile at the Barbados-flagged vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The missile strike resulted in significant damage to the ship, forcing the crew to abandon it.

“The multinational crew reports three fatalities, at least four injuries, of which three are in critical condition,” Centcom said.

The Philippine Department of Migrant Workers identified two of the deceased and two of the injured as Filipino nationals.

The attack comes amid ongoing tensions between the Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting in Yemen’s civil war since 2015.

The Houthis claim the attack was a response to warnings issued to the ship, which they allege ignored their instructions. Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sare’e stated on social media that the attack targeted an “American ship” and warned crews of other vessels to depart the area.

The Houthis have previously claimed they only target ships linked to Israel, the US, and the UK, but this attack and others raise concerns about indiscriminate targeting.

This incident follows the sinking of the Belize-flagged cargo ship “Rubymar” earlier in February after a Houthi attack. Additionally, a separate incident earlier this week saw four key telecommunications cables severed in the Red Sea, further disrupting crucial maritime infrastructure.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary-General, Arsenio Dominguez, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased and called for collective action to protect seafarers.

“Innocent seafarers should never become collateral victims,” Dominguez stated. “We all need to do more to protect seafarers. I once again call for collective action to fortify the safety of those who serve at sea.”

With international trade heavily reliant on safe and secure maritime shipping, the attack on the “True Confidence” raises serious concerns about the future of Red Sea shipping routes and the safety of seafarers operating in the region.