Cargo ship from EU nation hijacked in Arabian Sea

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The incident was reported near the Yemeni coast on Thursday and comes amid attacks by Houthi rebels in the region  

A Bulgarian-owned cargo vessel sailing under the Maltese flag was boarded in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen on Thursday, Bulgarian National TV (BNT) has reported. The incident comes amid repeated attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels on shipping in the region, prompting the US to take countermeasures.  

Details on the current whereabouts of the vessel, the Ruen, remain unclear. However, the Navigation Maritime Bulgare (NAVIBULGAR) confirmed one of its ships was “the subject of a security incident 380 nautical miles east of the island of Socotra, Yemen.” The priority is now the safety of the 18 crew members on board, the organization added. Eight of the crew are Bulgarian citizens, while the rest are from Myanmar and Angola, BNT said. 

The United Kingdom Trade Organization (UKMTO) reported an overheard VHF transmission indicating the vessel had been boarded roughly 700 nautical miles east of Bosaso, Somalia.   

The suspected attack is not the first off the coast of Yemen this week. On Monday, the Houthis struck a tanker sailing under the flag of Norway. The Strinda was hit by a missile fired by the group while traveling across the Red Sea, the militants confirmed.     

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This handout screen grab captured from a video shows Yemen's Houthi fighters' takeover of the Galaxy Leader Cargo in the Red Sea coast off Hudaydah, on November 20, 2023 in the Red Sea, Yemen Missile strikes Norwegian tanker in Red Sea

The rebel group has stated its intention to attack any vessels its sees as attempting to aid Israel, amid the escalation in the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza. With the death toll among the Palestinian population of the enclave reportedly rising to beyond 18,000, the Houthis have vowed to target any ship heading to Israel “until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops.” 

The Houthis have already attacked and in some cases boarded both commercial and military vessels crossing the Red Sea. 

Separately, a cargo ship owned by the Danish company Maersk was targeted by a missile as it sailed past the Yemeni coast, the company reported.  

The US special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, stated that Washington wanted to form the “broadest possible” international maritime coalition to protect ships in the Red Sea in light of the recent attacks, Reuters reported on Thursday.

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