International shippers warned against navigation in Red Sea

The U.K. Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency warned international shippers on Monday to steer clear of parts of the Gulf of Aden, as Houthi militants continue strikes on civilian cargo vessels.

Houthi militants struck the American-owned M/V Gibraltar Eagle with a missile on Monday, damaging it. That attack re-upped calls for caution in the region.

The Yemeni group has launched attacks on civilian ships in the region for weeks, including American ships, as the U.S. government leads a military response with allies.

A set of U.S.-U.K. joint airstrikes last week hit more than 60 targets in Yemen, killing five people, Houthi leadership said.

President Biden said the attacks were also supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands.

The president justified the action as a necessary defensive strike against a force that targeted American vessels in the Red Sea.

“Today’s defensive action follows this extensive diplomatic campaign and Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels,” Biden said. “These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.”

“I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary,” he added.

The rising conflict and confluence with the Israel-Hamas war have raised concerns for Red Sea shipping and for the wider Middle East.

Shipping giant Maersk ordered its ships around the Cape of Good Hope earlier this month, adding days to transit times, citing the threat of Houthi attacks.

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