Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters have claimed of targeting a Saudi Arabian warship off the coast of Hudaydah province in retaliation to an airstrike on Monday, killing 16 civilians including women and children.
According to Yemeni sources, Saudi warplanes targeted a refugee camp in the al-Hali district of Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah on Monday afternoon.
Gulf News report from Riyadh has confirmed the attack. However it claimed that a Saudi oil tanker was subjected to an attack in international waters on Tuesday by “Iranian Houthi militants”, that is how Saudi Arabia describes the country’s resistance force.
Colonel Turki Al Maliki, the spokesperson of the Saudi led Arab coalition has claimed that the attack was foiled due to the quick intervention of a coalition vessel. He said that the tanker sustained only a minor damage and was able to continue on its journey, sailing north while accompanied by coalition vessel.
Maliki further said that the attack represents a dangerous threat to freedom of navigation and global trade at the Bab El Mandeb Strait and Red Sea, and can also cause environmental damage and economic loss.
Earlier Houthi Ansarullah had fired long range missiles on Riyadh and several other destinations. Recently Saudi Arabia had claimed of intercepting seven missiles fired by Houthis before hitting their destinations.
Meanwhile, Saudi-supported internationally recognized government in exile, has on Tuesday reiterated its accusations that the Houthis were using the Hudaydah port for military purposes and to threaten international navigation and target ships that pass in the Red Sea. It has suggested that the port should be placed under the management of international observers.
Information Minister in the government in exile Muammar al-Eryani has also renewed calls to the international community to conduct a neutral investigation into the fire which erupted in the World Food Program warehouses in the Hudaydah port on Saturday.
Yemen is besieged by Saudi led coalition cutting all civilian supplies pushing the whole population into hunger which has developed into a humanitarian catastrophe.
On March 25, the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights (part of the Houthi run government, not the Saudi supported internationally recognized establishment), had announced that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured during the past three years.
The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
The Saudi-led coalition, having support from US, Israel, UK and several other western countries, began its air campaign against Yemen in March 2015. It was aimed to support former Saudi-friendly government and against Houthi Ansarullah. Houthis are now running the state affairs in the absence of an effective government.
The Saudi-supported “internationally recognized” government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is based in Riyadh. Hadi is trying to establish a rival government in southern port city of Aden, the capital of erstwhile South Yemen.
Yemen crisis began in 2011-12 revolution against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Saudi ally, who led the country for more than two decades. After Seleh left office in early 2012 as part of mediated agreement, his deputy Abd Rabbuh Mansour Haid struggled to unite the political landscape. In 2014 Houthi Ansarullah swept into the capital Sana’a and forced Hadi to negotiate a “unity government” with other political factions. Hadi resigned along with his ministers in January 2015.
In February 2015 Houthis declared themselves in control of the government, dissolving parliament and installing an Interim Revolutionary Committee led by Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, cousin of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi. On 27 March 2015 Hadi fled the country and arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh as Saudi-led coalition began air strikes on the country.
Since then, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi has tried to return to Aden to run the government. However, Hadi’s government functioning in Yemeni territories has not confirmed for years.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had joined Houthis against Hadi, but was allegedly spying for Saudi Arabia, was killed by Houthis in Sana’a in early December last year. He had announced to start a “new page” with Riyadh and called for rvence against the Iran-aligned Houthis.