August 12, 2017 / 4:55 PM / 11 days ago

Yemen's Houthis target coalition warship, agency reports

DUBAI (Reuters) - The armed Houthi movement and their foes in Yemen's civil war, the Saudi-led coalition, on Saturday gave conflicting accounts of a Houthi attempt to attack shipping in the Red Sea port of al-Mokha.

The Houthi-controlled state news agency SABA said the Houthi navy targeted and hit a warship belonging to the coalition inside the port.

The coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, said the Houthis attempted to attack al-Mokha port in the early hours of Saturday, using a remote-controlled boat packed with explosives.

"The coalition forces detected the boat three miles off the port, while it was sailing at 39 knots, and was intercepted by the coalition defense and diverted from its initial trajectory," al-Malki said in a statement sent to Reuters.

He did not give further details.

The SABA news agency, quoting a Houthi military source, said: "The Yemeni navy and coastguards targeted one of the warships belonging to the invasion and aggression forces inside al-Mokha port and hit it with precision."

The attack would raise further concerns for shipping in the narrow Bab al-Mandab waterway at the entrance to the Red Sea, a major choke point in the world oil trade.

Incidents are frequent there. Last month, unknown assailants attacked an oil tanker and fired rocket-propelled grenades before breaking off their assault. [nnL8N1IX5ZZ]

Yemen's civil war pits the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against the Houthis and forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The war has already killed more than 10,000 and displaced millions, with around 500,000 cholera cases reported in the country since the worst outbreak in decades started in April.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Stephen Powell

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