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Yemen's Houthis fire missiles at commercial ships in Red Sea

MISSILES fired by Yemen’s Houthi forces have struck three commercial ships in the Red Sea, while a United States warship shot down three drones that may have been aimed at the vessel.

Sunday’s strikes marked an escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Middle East linked to Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza.

The US vowed to “consider all appropriate responses” in the wake of the incident.

“We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran,” the US military’s central command said in a statement.

The attacks began at about 9.15am local time, it said, when the USS Carney detected a ballistic missile fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen at the  Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier the Unity Explorer.

The missile hit near the ship. Shortly afterward, the Carney shot down a drone flying towards it, though it was not clear whether the destroyer was the target, central command said.

About 30 minutes later, the Unity Explorer was hit by another missile. While responding to its distress call, the Carney shot down another incoming drone.The US military said that the Unity Explorer had sustained minor damage.

Two other commercial ships, the Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers Number 9 and Sophie II, were also struck by missiles. The Number 9 reported some damage but no casualties, while the Sophie II reported no significant damage.

While sailing to assist the Sophie II at about 4.30pm, the Carney shot down another drone heading in its direction. The drones did no damage.

The Carney has shot down numbers of rockets that the Houthis have fired toward Israel during the Gaza war.

Houthi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree said the movement’s forces were responsible for two of Sunday’s attacks on commercial shipping.

Iran has yet to directly address the attacks.

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