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British vessel comes under ‘attack’ off Yemen’s coast: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo by Reuters shows a cargo ship off the coast of Yemen.

A British maritime agency says one of the country’s vessels has come under “attack” off the coast of Yemen, with reports falling short of clarifying circumstances surrounding the incident.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organization said on Friday that the attack took place in the south of Yemen's coastal city of Nishtun, a strategic port city in the country’s far east near the border with Oman.

The organization said three smaller boats, each with three or four people aboard, chased the British vessel and fired shots at it.

The UKMTO later said it had confirmed the event by authorities as government agency activity and was downgrading it from an “attack” to an “incident.”

Maritime security company Ambrey said that, based on information provided, the vessel in question was a Cook Islands-flagged yacht, which was approached by Yemen's Coast Guard (YCG) after it did not respond to radio calls.

"According to the YCG, an armed security team, non-Ambrey, onboard the yacht then opened fire on the approaching Yemenis and attempted to escape perceived pirates," Ambrey said.

"The YCG returned fire and followed the yacht for approximately an hour until communications with the yacht could be established and the misunderstanding between the parties resolved."

The Nishtun port in the Gulf of Aden has been controlled by the Saudi-led coalition forces since 2015. Several vessels have been attacked in the area in unclear circumstances, with no group claiming responsibility for the maritime assault. 

Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with a number of its allies and with arms and logistical support from the United States and several other Western states.

The objective was to return power to Yemen’s former Riyadh-backed regime and crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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