Rocket-propelled grenades fired at oil tanker near Yemen

Yemen

Houthi militants fighting against the Yemen Saudi-backed government have attacked vessels near the country’s southern coast in recent months. Al Jazeera image.

Attack occurred in Red Sea waterway near Yemen

Unknown attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at an oil tanker traveling in a Red Sea waterway near Yemen on Wednesday.

A statement released by the EU Naval Force said the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the MT MUSKIE, was approached and fired upon by three men in a skiff in the southern Bab-el-Mandeb (BAM) Strait.

According to the vessel’s master, the attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades before the assailants broke off the attack.

The tanker is now safe and en route to her next port.

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The EU Naval Force says the incident occurred in an area not traditionally used by Somali-based pirates attacking ships.  Every day, nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped via the Bal al-Mandab Strait to Europe, Asia and the United States.

The agency is working with naval force partners in the region to gather more information and assess the exact nature of the attack.

EU Naval Force Spokesperson, Commander Jacqui Sherriff, said “EU NAVFOR has not received any information that confirms that piracy-related tripwires/equipment were observed during the attack.” She added “This indicates that the incident is more probably related to the continuing instability at sea off the coast of Yemen.”

In recent months, vessels near Yemen’s southern coast have been attacked by Houthi militants fighting against Yemen’s Saudi-backed government in a civil war.  The ongoing battle has left millions of people starving.

Sherriff urged masters of merchant vessels traveling in the area to remain vigilant.

 

 

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