Middle East Eye

  In Middle East Eye 

Saudi Arabia destroys explosive-laden boat near Red Sea port

Saudi Arabia said it destroyed an explosive-laden boat off the Red Sea port of Yanbu following “unconfirmed reports” by maritime security firms of an attack on a vessel in the area.

The Saudi defence ministry did not specify who was behind the attack nor whether there were any casualties after the Saudi navy attacked the boat on Tuesday.

“A bomb-laden unmanned (vessel) was intercepted and destroyed this morning,” the ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“Naval units were able to detect and monitor the activity of the bomb-laden (boat) in the Red Sea waters off the shores of Yanbu.”

Maritime security firm Dryad Global said it received reports that a ship had been “attacked” near Yanbu.

The firm said the ship was “not involved in the incident” and said it would continue to investigate.

British maritime security company Ambry also said smoke was seen rising from a vessel, while the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisations (UKMTO) said it was aware of reports of an incident two nautical miles from Yanbu.

But Abdullah Aldubaikhi, chief executive of Saudi national shipping company Bahri, told Reuters that none of its vessels had been attacked.

The incident comes as fighting has escalated in neighbouring Yemen, as Houthi rebels fight to control the oil-rich Marib region, the Saudi-backed Yemeni government’s last stronghold in northern Yemen.

Vessels have previously come under attack in the Red Sea.

Last December, Saudi Arabia said a tanker anchored at the Jeddah port was struck by an explosive-laden boat.  This attack came after a separate incident at another Red Sea port where an explosion damaged a tanker.