The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has intercepted a cargo ship coming from Djibouti to Hodeidah port carrying military equipment under the guise of carrying medical supplies.
Coalition sources told Sky News Arabia on Sunday that a search of the ship Menburt Cedar, which was bearing the flag of the Marshall Islands, showed that it was carrying encrypted military communication equipment and other military hardware in containers originating from the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.
They said that following its departure from the Iranian port, the ship docked temporarily in Djibouti before continuing its journey toward the Yemeni coast , where it was intercepted by coalition forces.
The ship was intercepted en route to the port of Hodeidah and taken to the Saudi port of Jizan, where it was inspected in the presence of international observers, the sources said.
Coalition forces have in the past have seized a number of boats and ships as they attempted to smuggle weapons to the Iran-backed Houthi militias and allied forces loyal to the ousted president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted a Scud missile fired towards the kingdom by the rebels, the coalition said.
The missile was destroyed by the kingdom’s air defences at around 9.45pm, about 100 kilometres from its border with Yemen, the official Saudi SPA news agency reported.
The rebels claimed in a statement on their sabanews.net website that the missile targeted the Abha Regional Airport in southern Saudi Arabia and “precisely hit its target” .
Saturday’s attack was the third time Saudi Arabia has shot down a Scud fired from Yemen.
On Tuesday, the coalition said that a Saudi Patriot missile downed a Scud fired from the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
Riyadh has deployed Patriots designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, which have been fired occasionally since last March when the coalition began air strikes in support of the Yemeni government after Houthi rebels seized Sanaa and advanced towards second city Aden.
Vehicle-borne Scud ballistic missiles have a much longer range and more powerful warhead than the rockets and mortar bombs which have struck the kingdom’s southern border regions, killing about 90 civilians and soldiers since the coalition intervention began.
* Wam and Reuters