UAE – A bulk carrier ship transporting a cargo of grain bound for Iran was damaged during an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels earlier this week, the Associated Press reported, citing authorities in the region.

The May 28 attack on the Greek-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged ship Laax comes as the Houthis continue their assaults on shipping throughout the Red Sea corridor. 

This campaign, according to the rebels, aims at pressuring Israel and the West over the ongoing war in Gaza.

The Laax initially listed its destination as Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. On May 30, however, its listed destination changed to Bandar Khomeini, Iran. A statement released by French naval forces based in the UAE confirmed that the vessel’s grain shipment was intended for Iran. 

A team from Djibouti inspected the damage involving both drones and missiles and found no remaining dangerous explosives onboard. Images released by the French navy showed damage at the waterline and the vessel’s deck.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping since November, killing three sailors, seizing one vessel, and sinking another, according to the US Maritime Administration. 

These ongoing attacks have led shipping companies to divert deliveries from the Suez Canal, adding to the journey and shipping cost.

The attack on the Laax involved five missiles hitting the ship during an hours-long assault, according to the private security firm LSS-SAPU. 

The firm, which previously helped evacuate mariners from the Houthi-attacked Rubymar that later sank, said there had been no prior warning by radio from the Houthis. 

LSS-SAPU had three armed security guards onboard the Laax at the time of the attack. The ship’s crew were 13 Filipinos and one Ukrainian, the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers reported.

In recent months, the Houthis have intensified attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza. 

This conflict, which began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, has resulted in more than 36,000 Palestinian deaths and significant casualties on the Israeli side.

The French naval statement emphasized the ongoing threat posed by the Houthis in the region, noting the rebels’ continued capacity to disrupt maritime operations. 

The Laax incident underscores the heightened risks for shipping through the Red Sea corridor amid the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

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