The Red Sea and its surroundings remain under tension. “According to our information, a merchant ship was targeted by a “missile” while it was cruising (…) off the coast of Aden, in Yemen,” announced the British maritime security company Ambrey on Thursday, January 31. “The ship reported an explosion” on board adds the firm. “Ambrey learned that this missile was fired (…) from Taizz,” a province in southern Yemen.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed to have fired missiles at a US ship, which they identified as the Kol, which they said was en route to an Israeli port. Yahya Saree, the rebel spokesperson, claimed on social media that the missiles “directly hit the ship” in the Gulf of Aden.

Houthi rebels, who control large swaths of Yemeni territory, have carried out more than 35 attacks on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 19, according to the Pentagon, disrupting maritime traffic in this critical area for world trade. These insurgents close to Iran say they want to prevent ships linked to Israel from sailing off Yemen, “in solidarity” with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who have been in the grip of the war between Israel and Hamas since October 7.

Houthi missile destroyed, US military says

The attacks have prompted some shipping companies to avoid the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, through which about 12 percent of global trade normally passes, by bypassing Africa.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, deployed warships to the Red Sea and carried out several strikes in January against rebel positions, sometimes jointly with the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, US forces claimed to have destroyed a missile belonging to Houthi rebels, which was ready to be fired and “presented an imminent threat to US aircraft”, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.