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First fatality: Yemeni army attack on bulk carrier transiting Gulf of Aden kills three mariners, US military confirms

This image obtained from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) on March 6, 2024 shows the Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier after it was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile launched by Yemeni Armed Forces.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed that a missile attack by Yemen’s Armed Forces on a merchant ship transiting the Gulf of Aden has left at least three seafarers dead, the first fatalities since the Arab country launched retaliatory attacks on vessels in the area.

CENTCOM said in a statement on Wednesday that the fatalities occurred after the Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence, a Liberian-owned bulk carrier, was set ablaze approximately 50 nautical miles (93km) off the coast of Yemen’s port of Aden.

It also reported at least four injuries, of which three are in critical condition, as well as “significant damage to the ship” following the strike.

Earlier, a shipping source said three crew members were missing from the bulk carrier True Confidence and four others had been badly burned following an attack on the vessel, which initial reports identified as a US-owned one.

A US defense official also said smoke was seen coming from True Confidence, adding that a lifeboat had also been seen in the water near the ship.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency also said it had received a report of the incident, adding that the vessel had been abandoned by the crew and was "no longer under command."

The Yemeni armed forces claimed responsibility for attack and said the operation came after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces.

The forces also urged all ships sailing through the region to respond to calls by Yemeni naval forces.

The latest development comes four days after the Rubymar, a British container ship, sank after floating for two weeks with severe damage from a retaliatory attack by Yemen’s Armed Forces.

The UK-owned Belize-flagged bulk carrier, the M/V Rubymar, came under the Yemeni military’s attack on February 18 with several naval missiles in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait — a strategic waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Yemen’s armed forces have been striking Israeli-linked ships since November 2023 in a campaign to force the occupying regime to end its brutal war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

The United States and Britain have also been carrying out strikes against Yemen since early January to force the Arab country to stop its strikes on Israel-linked ships. That has caused Yemenis to expand their maritime strikes to target ships owned by the two countries.

The flurry of strikes has made several shipping firms to suspend passage through the Red Sea, which usually carries around 12 percent of global trade.

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