Ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels in fatal assault sinks in Red Sea in their second sinking

A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels believed to have killed one mariner on board, authorities said early Wednesday, the second ship sunk in the rebels' campaign.
A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels
A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels

Dubai | A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels believed to have killed one mariner on board, authorities said early Wednesday, the second ship sunk in the rebels' campaign.

The sinking of the Tutor in the Red Sea marks what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign targeting shipping through the vital maritime corridor over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

The attack comes despite a monthslong US-led campaign in the region that has seen the Navy face its most-intense maritime fighting since World War II, with near-daily attacks targeting commercial vessels and warship.

The Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned-and-operated Tutor sank in the Red Sea, the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations centre said in a warning to sailors in the region.

“Military authorities report maritime debris and oil sighted in the last reported location,” the UKMTO said. “The vessel is believed to have sunk.” The Houthis, quoting foreign reports in media outlets they control, acknowledged the sinking. The US military did not acknowledge the sinking, nor did it respond to requests for comment.

The Tutor came under attack about a week ago by a bomb-carrying Houthi drone boat in the Red Sea. John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said on Monday that the attack killed “a crew member who hailed from the Philippines”.

The Philippines has yet to acknowledge the death, but the man who had been aboard the Tutor has been missing for over a week in the Red Sea, which faces intense summertime heat.

The use of a boat loaded with explosives raised the spectre of the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole, a suicide assault by al-Qaida when the warship was at port in the Yemeni city of Aden, killing 17 on board. The Cole is now part of a US Navy operation in the Red Sea led by the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to try and halt the Houthi attacks, though the rebels continue their assaults.

The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They've seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carried a load of fertilizer sank in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.

The Houthis have maintained their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the US or the UK. However, many of the ships they've attacked have little or no connection to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

A recent report by the US Defence Intelligence Agency acknowledged container shipping through Red Sea has declined by 90 per cent since December over the attacks. As much as 15 per cent of the world's maritime traffic flows through that corridor.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Houthis said US-led airstrikes targeted Raymah, a province in Yemen under rebel control. The Houthi-controlled SABA news agency described a local radio station's building as being “totally destroyed” in the strikes. About a week earlier, the Houthis said similar strikes killed two people and wounded nine others, without saying if those hurt were fighters or civilians.

The US military's Central Command said in an earlier statement it destroyed eight Houthi drones in Yemen, while also destroying a Houthi drone in flight over the Gulf of Aden over the last day.

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