Saudi-led Coalition Says Yemeni Rebels Hijacked Red Sea Vessel

Houthis confirm seizure of South Korean ship, say it will be released

Saudi military spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019
Amr Nabil,AP

Iran-aligned rebels have hijacked a vessel south of the Red Sea, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Monday.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki as saying that Houthi rebels seized the vessel while it was towing a South Korean drilling rig the previous day.

Al-Malki said the “attack” threatens vital shipping routes in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, used for oil shipments from the Gulf to Europe, as well as goods from Asia to Europe.

In a meeting with the South Korean ambassador to Yemen, Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami sharply condemned the seizure of the ship and called for its immediate release, according to a government statement.

“These provocative and illegal actions will negatively affect the freedom of international navigation,” he said.

A Houthi leader, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi tweeted confirmation that their forces had seized a South Korean vessel in Yemen’s waters and would release it.

The Houthis have in the past targeted oil tankers and military ships belonging to Saudi Arabia and its partners in the coalition fighting in Yemen’s war since 2015.

Saudi military spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019
Amr Nabil,AP