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Missile hits Red Sea container ship, US destroyers shoot down two others | Middle East and North Africa

A US destroyer shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Yemen on Saturday while responding to a call for help from a container ship that was hit separately, US Central Command (Centcom) said.

Centcom said the U.S. destroyers Gravely and Laboon responded to a request for assistance from Maersk Hangzhou, a Singapore-flagged container ship owned and operated by Denmark, which said it had been hit by a missile while he was crossing the Red Sea.

In response, missiles were launched at the ships from territory controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Centcom said.

The Gravelys shot down the missiles, Centcom said, describing it as the Houthis’ “23rd illegal attack on international shipping” since November 19.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received a report of an incident in the Red Sea, approximately 55 nautical miles southwest of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. The captain of an unidentified vessel reported “a loud bang accompanied by a flash of lightning on the port bow of the vessel” and several explosions in the area. No damage was reported and all crew were safe. The ship had cleared the area at full speed towards the next port of call.

The Houthis have targeted ships in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes they say are aimed at supporting Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is waging a war to root out the militant group Hamas.

Several shipping companies suspended operations across the Red Sea in response to the attacks, preferring to take a longer journey around Africa.

Yemeni rebels have said they are targeting Israel and ships linked to Israel. The United States has established a multinational naval force to protect the Red Sea transit route, which carries up to 12 percent of global trade.

With Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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