Three seafarers have been killed in the latest attack by Iranian-backed Houthi militia against cargo vessels transiting the Red Sea.

US Central Command (Centcom) confirmed a Barbados-flagged bulk carrier, True Confidence, was hit by a ballistic missile (ASBM) at around 11am yesterday, killing three crew members and injuring at least four – three critically.

Centcom noted: “The crew abandoned ship and coalition warships responded and are assessing the situation. [There is] significant damage to the ship.

“This is the fifth ASBM fired by Houthis in the past two days. Two impacted shipping vessels – the MSC Sky II and True Confidence. One was shot down by USS Carney.

“These reckless attacks have disrupted global trade and taken the lives of international seafarers.”

Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said the attacks against commercial shipping would only cease when the “siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza is lifted”.

However, question marks have dogged Houthi claims that the attacks are spurred only by Israel’s assault on the Palestinian enclave.

According to reports, True Confidence’s owner, Liberia-registered True Confidence Shipping, and operator Greek shipping line Third January Maritime said the vessel had no ties to Israel, the US or any of the nations singled out by Houthi attacks.

Nor is this the first time the Houthi group has seemingly failed to properly identify a vessel as having ties to those it is targeting.

But, with yesterday’s incident being the first to claim the lives of commercial sailors, there are expectations of a pronounced response from western governments through retaliatory strikes against Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory.

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