0141 GMT December 12, 2019
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said a Korean dredger had been seized on Sunday evening, along with a Korean tugboat and a Saudi tugboat. It said 16 sailors including two South Koreans had been detained, Reuters reported.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior Houthi official told Reuters the Yemeni forces had seized a “suspect vessel” in the Red Sea and said the crew were being treated well.
“Yemeni coastguards ... 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,” he said.
The dredger and the Korean tugboat were owned by South Korean builder Woongjin Development, a company official told Reuters.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen also said the seized vessels included a Korean drilling rig and the Saudi tug, the Rabigh 3, which was captured by Houthis who attacked from two boats.
The incident is the latest at sea around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to pro-Saudi former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The conflict has since killed tens of thousands of people – most of them civilians – and driven millions more to the brink of famine in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The coalition has imposed a blockade that threatens Yemenis with starvation.
The Houthi coastguard, part of the movement’s Interior Ministry, said in a statement three vessels had been seized near Uqban Island, including one belong to Saudi Arabia, and taken to the Yemeni port of Salif. The statement said the vessels had been in Yemeni territorial waters without approval.