Saudi-led coalition intercepts Houthi explosive-laden boats

Interception follows series of attacks along Red Sea coast off Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

The Saudi-led coalition said it intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats launched by Yemen's Houthis rebels in the southern Red Sea on Wednesday.

Saudi Brigadier General Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen, said the boats were launched from the contested province of Hodeidah.

“Coalition Navy Forces detected this evening an attempt by the terrorist Houthi militia to carry out a hostile, terrorist act in Southern Red Sea using two bomb-laden Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) launched from Hodeida governorate," Brig Gen Al Malki said in a statement reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

The bomb-laden vessels "pose a threat to regional and international security, sea lines of communication and International trade" and were destroyed, he said.
Brig Gen Al Malki said the Iran-backed rebels were using Hodeidah as a launching site for ballistic missiles, bomb-laden drones, USVs and naval mines "in a clear, blatant violation of the international humanitarian law and the Stockholm Agreement's ceasefire provisions".

The UN-brokered ceasefire agreement for Hodeidah was reached in December 2018 but has yet to be fully implemented.

The interception of the explosive boats comes days after a cargo vessel was attacked off the coast of Yemen and an oil tanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia's port was hit by a mine.

The Gulf of Aden is a crucial route for global trade and was until recently vulnerable to Somali pirate attacks.