Filipino seafarers killed in first fatal Houthi attack on commercial shipping

Filipino seafarers killed in first fatal Houthi attack on commercial shipping
# 07 March 2024 11:42 (UTC +04:00)

Two Filipino seafarers are among the dead after a Houthi ballistic missile struck a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden, marking the first fatal attack by the Iran-backed militant group in its ongoing assaults in the Red Sea, APA reports citing CNN.

At least three crew members were killed and four others injured in the attack Wednesday on the M/V True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier, US Central Command said in a statement. The ship has since been abandoned and coalition warships are now in the area assessing the situation, two US officials told CNN.

In a statement Thursday, the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) announced the death of its nationals and said two other Filipino crewmen were severely injured in the attack.

The deadly strike marks a significant escalation of the Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, which began in October in response to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The Houthis said in a statement that the strike was “accurate” and caused a fire to break out on the ship.

“The targeting operation came after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces,” a Houthi statement said.

The Houthis, having taken control of most of northern Yemen – including the capital Sanaa – present themselves as the legitimate rulers of the country.

The Houthi statement reiterated the group’s support for the Palestinian people and said they will not stop their attacks in the Red Sea until Israeli “aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Wednesday that the deaths were “sadly inevitable.”

“The Houthis have continued to launch these reckless attacks with no regard for the well-being of innocent civilians who are transiting through the Red Sea, and now they have unfortunately and tragically killed innocent civilians,” Miller said at a briefing.

“The United States will continue to hold the Houthis accountable for their attacks, which have not just disrupted international commerce, not just disrupted the freedom of navigation and international waters, and not just endangered seafarers, but now tragically killed a number of them,” he said.

The United Nations’ shipping agency chief expressed condolences over the deaths and made renewed calls to protect crew members following the tragedy.

“Innocent seafarers should never become collateral victims,” International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez said in a statement.