Saudi-led naval forces foil Red Sea attack


Naval forces from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen foiled an “imminent terrorist attack” by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in the southern Red Sea, a major commercial shipping channel, the coalition said.

The forces destroyed an unmanned boat laden with explosives launched from Hodeidah province , coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said on Saudi state news agency SPA, without identifying targets.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Houthi movement, battling the Sunni Muslim military coalition since 2015 in a conflict largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran.

Yemen lies along the Bab al-Mandeb strait at the southern end of the Red Sea, an important trade route for oil tankers heading from the Middle East to Europe.

Malki said the planned attack posed a threat to regional and international security and maritime trade. He said the use of Hodeidah for operations was a “glaring violation” of a UN-led peace deal in the disputed port city.

Violence started in January, ending three months of calm in the five-year-old conflict following informal ceasefire talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis.

Coalition warplanes carried out air strikes on the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, hitting the presidential palace and military sites, residents told Reuters.

Malki said the operation on Sanaa destroyed Houthi sites used to store ballistic missiles and drones.

The strikes were the first to hit the capital for months, residents said, and followed attempted missile attacks by Houthi forces on Saudi cities, as the kingdom prepared for a gathering of finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies in Riyadh.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in 2014 by the Houthis, who now control most major urban centres.