Two missiles fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen landed near a US destroyer passing by in the Red Sea, the US Navy said yesterday, the second such launch targeting ships in the crucial international waterway in recent days.
The missile launches on Sunday came as a ballistic missile fired from Yemen apparently targeted a Saudi air base near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, the deepest strike yet into the kingdom by Shiite rebels and their allies.
However, the Houthi movement yesterday denied its forces had carried out the attack.
“[The Houthi movement] denies targeting any ship off Yemeni waters,” an unidentified Houthi official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies offered no reason for the launches, though they came after a Saudi-led airstrike targeting a funeral in Yemen’s capital killed more than 140 people and wounded 525 on Saturday.
In a statement, the Navy said no US sailors were injured and no damage was done to the USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyer whose home port is Norfolk, Virginia.
Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for US Navy Forces Central Command, yesterday said that it was unclear if the USS Mason was specifically targeted, though the missiles were fired in its direction over an hour’s time period, starting at about 7pm.
A US defense official said the USS Mason used onboard defensive measures after the first missile was fired, but it was not clear if that caused the missile to splash harmlessly into the sea.
The destroyer at the time of the missile fire was north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which serves as a gateway for oil tankers headed to Europe through the Suez Canal, the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the incident that have not been made public.
Last week, an Emirati-leased Swift boat came under rocket fire near the same area and sustained serious damage. The United Arab Emirates described the vessel as carrying humanitarian aid and having a crew of civilians, while the Houthis called the boat a warship.
US Navy officials declined to immediately discuss what kind of rockets were used in the USS Mason incident.
Analysts with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggested in a report that the Houthis may have targeted the Emirati ship with an Iranian anti-shipping cruise missile, based on purported video of the attack.
Iran has supported the Houthis, but denied supplying them with weapons. Any Iranian involvement could stoke tension between Tehran and the US, which already have had a series of tense naval encounters since the nuclear deal with world powers.
Meanwhile, Saudi state television aired a brief clip of what appeared to be a projectile that was said to have landed in Taif in the ballistic missile attack.
The video shows the flash of an explosion, followed by images of emergency vehicles.
Taif is home to Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd Air Base, which hosts US military personnel training the kingdom’s armed forces.
The Saudi military said the missile fired late on Saturday night was intercepted and caused no damage.
Al-Masirah, a satellite news channel run by the Houthis, identified the missile as a local variant of a Soviet-era Scud missile. It said the Volcano-1 missile targeted the air base.
The Houthis have fired a series of ballistic missiles in Saudi Arabia since a kingdom-led coalition of Arab countries has launched an offensive against them in Yemen in March last year.
Most of those ballistic missiles have hit areas far closer to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, like an attack Friday night that targeted the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait.
However, in the Taif attack, the missile struck a target more than 520km from the border.
Additional reporting by Reuters
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500