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Yemen’s Houthis seize ‘suspected vessel’ in Red Sea

Fighters from Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement have managed to seize a ‘suspected vessel’ off the western coasts of the impoverished country in the Red Sea, but will release it once it proves to belong to South Korea after completing legal procedures, a top Houthi official says.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the Chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, made the remarks in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

“Yemeni coast guards… are checking to see whether (the vessel) belongs to the countries of aggression or to South Korea, in which case it will be released after completing legal procedures. The crews are being well treated,” he said.

By countries of aggression Houthi meant Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies that launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the former pro-Saudi regime back to power and crushing Ansarullah.

In a short message on his Twitter account, Houthi assured that there were absolutely no need to “worry about the crew.”

His comments came shortly after the Saudi-led military coalition, in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, accused the Houthi movement of “hijacking” a vessel that had been towing a South Korean drilling rig. It added that the vessel had been seized late on Sunday.

The Saudi-imposed war has taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.