March 4, 2020 / 2:22 PM / a month ago

Saudi-led coalition says it foiled attack on oil tanker off Yemen

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it had foiled an attack on an oil tanker off Yemen’s coast on the Arabian Sea, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The tanker was sailing 90 nautical miles south of Yemen’s Nishtun port towards the Gulf of Aden when it was targeted by four boats, with one of the remotely controlled vessels “trying to explode it”, coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said in a statement carried on SPA.

The statement did not say who was behind the attack or give details about the oil tanker.

Yemen lies along the Bab al-Mandeb strait at the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes for oil tankers heading from the Middle East to Europe.

The Sunni Muslim military coalition has in the past accused Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which it has been battling for five years, of trying to attack vessels off the coast of Yemen with unmanned boats laden with explosives.

Last month the alliance said its naval forces had destroyed a Houthi explosive-laden boat launched in the southern Red Sea from Hodeidah province in western Yemen.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 by the Houthis, who now control most major urban centres.

Reporting by Alaa Swilam, Writing by Ghaida Ghantous, Editing by Mark Heinrich and Angus MacSwan

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