An oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden is on fire after a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi militants, in the latest incident linked to the Iran-backed group in the key shipping route.
The operator of the British oil tanker Marlin Luanda said Friday the vessel had been “struck by a missile in the Gulf of Aden after transiting the Red Sea,” and that “firefighting equipment on board is being deployed to suppress and control the fire caused in one cargo tank on the starboard side.”
The Iran-backed militants claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that they had fired on the tanker in response to the “American-British aggression against our country [Yemen]” and in support of the Palestinian people.
The commodities group Trafigura, which operates the ship and has offices in Britain, said it is monitoring the situation and that military ships in the region are on the way “to provide assistance.”
The British government has yet to comment on the attack.
US Central Command said the ship had issued a distress call and reported damage after militants fired an anti-ship ballistic missile from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen.
The USS Carney, a guided missile destroyer, and other coalition ships responded “and are rendering assistance,” Central Command said.
There are no reported injuries at this time, it added.
NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) on Friday detected a still continuing blaze in the middle of Gulf of Aden near to the last known location of the Marlin Luanda.
Earlier in the day, the USS Carney had shot down a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile that targeted the US warship, according to US Central Command. There were no injuries as a result of the attack on the USS Carney.
The US and UK have been carrying out strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen after the Biden administration and its allies warned that the group would bear the consequences of its attacks in the international shipping lane.
The Houthis have said that they won’t stop their attacks until the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza comes to an end. Houthi leader Abdul Malek al-Houthi said in a speech that it is “a great honor and blessing to be confronting America directly.”
The attacks have forced some of the world’s biggest shipping and oil companies to suspend transit through one of the world’s most important maritime trade routes. Tankers are instead adding thousands of miles to international shipping routes by sailing around the continent of Africa rather than going through the Suez Canal.
CNN previously reported that US intelligence officials believe Iran is carefully calibrating its response to Israel’s war in Gaza, allowing and even encouraging its proxy groups to exact costs against Israeli and American interests in the region – while stopping short of activities that would spark a direct confrontation with Iran itself.
Within Yemen, a yearslong conflict between Houthi forces and a Saudi-backed coalition has plunged the population into a devastating humanitarian crisis marked by famine, economic turmoil and extreme poverty.
Houthi forces stormed the capital Sanaa in 2014, and toppled the internationally recognized and Saudi-backed government, triggering a civil war. The conflict spiraled into a wider war in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition intervened in an attempt to beat back the Houthis.
The conflict has killed up to 377,000 people, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reported in 2021. More than half of those died from indirect causes associated with the conflict, such as lack of food, water and healthcare.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
CNN’s Christian Edwards, Haley Britzky and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.
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