DOHA (Reuters) - A Saudi-led force in Yemen said it rescued passengers on Saturday from a vessel being used by the United Arab Emirates military that was attacked by Houthi fighters in a strategic Red Sea shipping lane.
“The coalition rescued civilians from a vessel targeted by Houthi militias ... that was transferring medical aid to the city of Aden and evacuating wounded civilians for treatment,” the coalition said in a statement on Saudi state news agency SPA.
Hundreds of Emirati soldiers in an Arab alliance have been fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthis, who control the capital, and training Yemeni troops in Aden to help rebuild a state loyal to exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The UAE military said on Saturday one of its vessels had been involved in an “incident” near the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen’s southern coast but none of its crew had been hurt.
The Houthis, however, said on Saturday their forces had destroyed a UAE military vessel that was advancing toward the Red Sea port of Al-Mokha.
“Armed forces destroyed with a missile a military vessel belonging to the forces of the UAE,” a military official was quoted as saying by the Saba Yemeni news agency, run by the dominant Houthi movement since it seized Sanaa last year.
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil per day passed through the 20 km (12 mile) wide Bab al-Mandab strait, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A senior Emirati commander was among dozens killed in a Tochka rocket strike in 2015 on an army camp near Bab al-Mandab, one of the bloodiest setbacks for Gulf forces in months of fighting.
Reporting by Tom Finn and Ahmed Tolba; editing by David Clarke