Naval forces from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen foiled an attempted attack on an unidentified commercial ship in the southern Red Sea by Iran-aligned Houthis, which the group denied.
Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the Western-backed military alliance destroyed an unmanned boat laden with explosives which the militants used for the attack, Saudi state news agency SPA reported without providing more detail.
A Houthi military spokesman denied targeting commercial shipping in the area, the group’s Al Masirah TV reported, calling the claims “pure slander and completely baseless”.
Yemen’s four-year war is largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and arch-foe Iran. The impoverished country lies along the Bab al-Mandeb strait at the southern mouth of the Red Sea, an important trade route for oil tankers from the Middle East to Europe.
Last year, Saudi Arabia paused oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb for more than a week after the Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. The strait is only 20 km wide, making ships easy potential targets.
Attacks on oil tankers in May and June on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula, near the Strait of Hormuz, and Tehran’s downing of a US drone aggravated tensions between the United States and Iran in recent months.
Washington and Riyadh blame Tehran for the attacks, which Iran denies.