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Vessel reports missile impacting it 129 NM east of Yemen's Aden, Ambrey says

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Corrects paragraph 11 to show comment was posted on LinkedIn, not X

By Nayera Abdallah, Enas Alashray and Yomna Ehab

DUBAI/CAIRO, June 13 (Reuters) -Missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militants struck the Palau-flagged Verbena cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, sparking a fire and severely injuring one of her crew, U.S. Central Command said.

The Iran-allied Houthis have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea region since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Thursday's attack marked their second direct hit on a merchant ship in two days, and the group said its campaign would continue until hostilities in the Gaza Strip end.

Three missiles struck the Verbena on Thursday, sparking a fire and damaging the ship, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said.

While her crew fought the fire, an aircraft from the U.S. Navy's Philippine Sea warship medically evacuated the injured mariner to a partner force ship nearby for medical attention, U.S. Central Command said.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact the Verbena's Polish manager. The vessel, loaded with wood construction material, was sailing to Italy at the time of the attack, CENTCOM said. Security and military sources said the Verbena still has power and steering capabilities.

A day earlier, Yemen's Houthi militants took responsibility for small watercraft and missile attacks that left a Greek-owned cargo ship taking in water and in need of rescue near Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

The Houthi campaign in the Red Sea region has disrupted global shipping, cascading delays and costs through supply chains. The militants have sunk one ship, seized another vessel and killed three seafarers in yet another attack.

"Operations will not stop unless the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," the Houthis said on Thursday.

They claimed to also have directly hit two other ships, but Reuters was not immediately able to verify that.

While several near misses have been reported, "the data would also say (the Houthis) are getting more successful with direct hits," Joshua Hutchinson, managing director of intelligence and risk for British maritime security firm Ambrey, said in a post on LinkedIn.

Reporting by Nayera Abdallah in Dubai, Enas Alashray and Yomna Ehab in Cairo and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Chopra, Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler


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