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Crew of Israel-linked tanker seized off Yemen ‘safe’: US official

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A tanker linked to an Israel-affiliated company was seized off Yemen Sunday by armed individuals, US defence officials said, but the crew members were later brought to safety.

“There are indications that an unknown number of unidentified armed individuals seized the M/V Central Park in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 26,” a US defence official told AFP.

The maritime security firm Ambrey said that “US naval forces are engaged in the situation” after the incident involving the Central Park, which is owned and managed by a UK-based, Israel-linked company.

Hours later, another US defence official told AFP that US and coalition forces responded to the emergency aboard the tanker and “the crew of the M/V Central Park is currently safe.”

It was not immediately clear if the crew remained aboard the vessel or the ship’s location.

Owner Zodiac Maritime said that among the 22 crew were Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals, as well as a Turkish captain, according to Ambrey.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels had previously threatened to attack the tanker if it did not divert to the port of Hodeida, it said.

Communications from a US coalition warship had been intercepted warning the Central Park to disregard the messages, Ambrey added.

The boarding took place offshore from the Yemeni port city of Aden, with another vessel in the area reporting “an approach by eight persons on two skiffs wearing military uniforms”, Ambrey said.

The latest incident comes after a US defence official said an Israeli-owned cargo ship was damaged in a suspected Iranian drone attack in the Indian Ocean on Friday, and a week after Huthis seized an Israel-linked cargo vessel in the southern Red Sea.

The Huthis, declaring themselves part of the “axis of resistance” of Iran-affiliated groups, have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since the unprecedented October 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israel.

Israel has vowed to “crush” the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 hostages, according to Israeli authorities.

Gaza’s Hamas government says that nearly 15,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli aerial bombardment and ground operations in the Palestinian territory since the war began.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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