Suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels strikes a ship in the Red Sea, though crew reportedly safe

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck a ship in the Red Sea early Friday, causing damage to the vessel, authorities said.

The attack off the port city of Hodeida comes as part of the rebels’ campaign against shipping over Israel’s ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said the ship reported being “struck by a missile.”

“The vessel has sustained some damage,” the UKMTO added. It described the crew as being “safe” and said the ship was continuing on its way, suggesting the damage wasn’t severe.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack, though it typically takes the rebels hours to acknowledge their assaults.

The Houthis have attacked ships since November, saying they want to force Israel to end its offensive in Gaza.

The ships targeted by the Houthis, however, have increasingly had little or no connection to Israel, the U.S. or other nations involved in the war. The rebels have also fired missiles toward Israel, though they have largely fallen short or been intercepted.

The assaults on shipping have raised the profile of the Houthis. A report Thursday claimed the Houthis now had a hypersonic missile, potentially increasing that cachet and putting more pressure on Israel after a cease-fire deal failed to take hold in Gaza before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hypersonic missiles also would pose a more serious threat to American and allied warships in the region.

Earlier in March, a Houthi missile struck a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden, killing three of its crew members and forcing survivors to abandon the vessel. It marked the first fatal attack by the Houthis on shipping.

Other recent Houthi actions include an attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which later sank after drifting for several days.