UPDATE — 2:34 pm PST: The U.S. Central Command has confirmed that four attacks were carried out against three commercial ships in the Red Sea today. Yemen’s Houthi rebel militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security,” the U.S. Central Command said in a statement. “They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world. We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”
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The three commercial ships identified in the statement are the Bahamas-flagged, UK-owned Unity Explorer, the Number 9, a Panamanian-flagged container ship, and Sophie II, which is also registered in Panama.
This afternoon’s statement concluded: “The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”
PREVIOUS STORY — 8:29 am PST: The Pentagon has said an American warship and multiple commercial ships have come under attack Sunday in the Red Sea.
“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon said. The initial report was published by The Associated Press.
The attack comes as industry professionals from across the globe gather at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival.
The Pentagon’s statement came shortly after British officials said it had received intelligence of a drone attack in the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandab strait. Sky News reports that British officials said the drone activity originated from Yemen.
The Pentagon did not identify where it believed the attack fire came from. However, a U.S. official, speaking anonymously to AP, said the attack “began about 10 a.m. in Sanaa, Yemen, and had been going on for as much as five hours.”
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched a series of attacks in the Red Sea, including launching drones and missiles targeting Israeli ships, since the conflict between the country and Hamas has escalated.
The Bab al-Mandab Strait is located at the base of the Red Sea between Yemen and Djibouti on the Horn Of Africa. The waters are roughly 1,107 km, hundreds of miles south of Jeddah, where the Red Sea Film Festival is taking place. Deadline has contacted the festival for comment.
The festival’s third edition opened on Thursday with a characteristically starry red carpet featuring the likes of Michelle Williams, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, and Will Smith. The kick-off had more of a local feel than the first two editions, however, with an Arabic-language film, the fantasy adventure HWJN, opening the festival for the first time.
The festival runs until Dec 9.
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