0236 GMT May 21, 2022
Yemeni forces have seized an Emirati-flagged ship carrying military equipment off Hodeida Province in the Red Sea, an army spokesman said on Monday, citing hostile acts for the capture.
“The Yemeni armed forces are seizing an Emirati military cargo ship with military equipment on board that entered Yemeni waters without any license and engaged in hostilities targeting the security and stability of the Yemeni people,” Yahya Saree said in tweet.
He added that the “unprecedented operation” was part of Yemen’s fight against the ongoing Saudi-led “aggression”.
A Saudi-led coalition, waging a seven-year war on Yemen in an effort to reinstate a former friendly government, said the vessel, named Rawabi, was captured on Sunday as it was returning to the Saudi city of Jizan carrying medical supplies after finishing a mission to set up a field hospital on Yemen's Socotra island, off the country's south coast.
Turki al-Malki, a Saudi military spokesman, urged Yemen’s Ansarullah movement that controls the capital Sana’a and many other regions to “promptly release the ship” or the coalition will “undertake all necessary measures…, including the use of force if necessary” to take back the ship, AFP reported.
Malki was unable to confirm the number of people on board. There was no immediate comment from the United Arab Emirates.
Fighting has intensified over the past few weeks in Yemen with Saudi Arabia carrying airstrikes almost on a daily basis mainly pounding civilian targets, according to Yemeni officials. The Saudi war on Yemen that began on 2015 has displaced millions and created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the United Nations says.
A crippling air and sea blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia has added to the misery of the Yemeni people.
UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg last week said the uptick in fighting "undermines the prospects of reaching a sustainable political settlement to end the conflict".
"The escalation in recent weeks is among the worst we have seen in Yemen for years and the threat to civilian lives is increasing."
In late November the United Nations said the war would have killed 377,000 people by years' end, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease.