Jeddah: The Saudi-led coalition said it intercepted and destroyed an explosives-laden boat launched from Yemen by the Iran-aligned Houthi group yesterday, an incident that could further increase regional tensions after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
“The coalition’s naval forces detected an attempt by the terrorist Houthi militia backed by Iran to carry out an imminent act of aggression and terrorism south of the Red Sea using an unmanned, rigged boat ... launched from Hodeidah province,” coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Malki said.
There was no immediate confirmation by the Houthi movement, which had claimed responsibility for the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Riyadh has rejected the claim and said those strikes did not come from Yemen.
The Houthis, who have threatened to widen attacks on Saudi Arabia, have in the past targeted vessels off Yemen, which lies on one side of the Bab Al Mandeb strait at the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the world’s most vital oil tanker routes.
In July 2018, the group attacked two Saudi tankers in the Red Sea, one of which sustained minimal damage. Riyadh responded by temporarily suspending oil shipments through the strait, which the Houthis have in the past threatened to block.
Col Al Malki said the foiled attack represented a threat to regional and international security and the safety of maritime routes and international trade.
The incident comes as the US and Saudi Arabia consider responses to the assault on Saudi oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Iran.