Houthis kill three cargo ship crew members with missile strike, the first casualties of attacks on merchant vessels

6 March 2024, 18:31 | Updated: 6 March 2024, 23:32

True Confidence
True Confidence. Picture: VesselFinder

By Kit Heren

The Houthi rebels have killed three crew members on board a cargo ship, US officials have said.

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The deaths mark the first casualties taken by the Yemeni rebels in their missile strikes on merchant vessels, part of their ongoing conflict with the US and UK in the Red Sea.

At least four crew members were wounded in the attack on the Barbados-flagged bulk carrier True Confidence, alongside the three people killed.

The rest of the crew fled in lifeboats. The damage to the ship itself remains unclear.

A US warship and the Indian navy are on the scene trying to help with the rescue.

Read more: British cargo ship sinks after Houthi missile attack in Red Sea - becoming first vessel destroyed in rebels' campaign

Read more: Who are the Houthi rebels and what has led to increased tensions in the Middle East?

Tom condemns pro-Houthi chants after the group reportedly kill two sailers in Yemen attacks

Brigadier General Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attack in a pre-recorded message, saying its missile fire set the vessel ablaze.

He said the rebels' attacks would only stop when the "siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza is lifted".

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since the end of 2023 in a campaign intended to back Palestinians amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The deaths come after a British-registered cargo ship sunk last week after being hit by Houthi missiles in the Red Sea.

Houthi supporters attend a rally against the U.S.-led strikes on Yemen and Israel's war in Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen in February
Houthi supporters attend a rally against the U.S.-led strikes on Yemen and Israel's war in Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen in February. Picture: Alamy

The Rubymar was the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of the Houthis' campaign over Israel's war against Hamas.

The ship had been drifting northward after being attacked on February 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait - a waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The crew were forced to "abandon the vessel", with British officials later confirming that all crew were safe and an investigation had been launched.

Yemen's internationally recognised government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed the ship had since sunk.

'We've chosen to deplete our armed forces out of complete naivety', says Sir Simon Mayall

Many ships have already been forced to take detours to avoid Red Sea, with more disruption expected now the ship has sunk.

Despite more than a month and a half of US-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks.

In late February, the US and UK launched more strikes against Houthi targets in eight locations across Yemen.

The targets included weapons storage facilities, attack drones and air defence systems.

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