Drone strike hits Israel-linked ship off India's coast

The Indian navy said it had responded to a request for assistance by sending a warship

By AFP

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Indian Navy (Image used for illustrative purpose). Photo: File
Indian Navy (Image used for illustrative purpose). Photo: File

Published: Sat 23 Dec 2023, 4:52 PM

Last updated: Sat 23 Dec 2023, 10:32 PM

A drone strike damaged a ship off the coast of India on Saturday but caused no casualties, two maritime agencies said, with one reporting the merchant vessel was linked to Israel.

The attack caused a fire on board, according to the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, or UKMTO.

Ambrey, a maritime security firm, said the "Liberia-flagged chemical/products tanker... was Israel-affiliated" and had been on its way from Saudi Arabia to India.

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Both agencies said the attack occurred 200 nautical miles southwest of Veraval, India.

The Indian navy said it had responded to a request for assistance.

"An aircraft was dispatched and it reached overhead the vessel and established safety of the involved ship and its crew," a navy official told AFP.

"An Indian navy warship has also been dispatched so as to provide assistance as required."

No immediate claim of responsibility

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike which came amid a flurry of drone and missile attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels on a vital shipping lane in the Red Sea.

Last month, an Israeli-owned cargo ship was hit in a suspected drone attack by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Indian Ocean, according to a US official.

The Malta-flagged vessel managed by an Israeli-affiliated company was reportedly damaged when the unmanned aerial vehicle exploded close to it, according to Ambrey.

The Red Sea attacks on shipping since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7 have prompted major firms to reroute their cargo vessels around the southern tip of Africa, despite the higher fuel costs of much longer voyages.

The Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels involving more than 35 different countries, according to the Pentagon.

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