Aftermath of Houthi attack on ship (archive)
Aftermath of Houthi attack on ship (archive)Reuters/EYEPRESS Images

A Houthi ballistic missile attack on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden resulted in at least two fatalities among the crew members on Wednesday, two US officials told CNN.

The incident marked the first time that the Iran-backed group has killed anyone as part of their ongoing attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea.

The attack struck the M/V True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier, the officials said. The ship has since been abandoned and coalition warships are now in the area assessing the situation, the officials said. At least six other crew members were injured, one of the officials said.

The attack occurred around 11:30 a.m. Sanaa time (3:30 a.m. ET), one of the officials said.

The Houthis said in a statement that the strike was “accurate” and caused a fire to break out on the ship.

“The targeting operation came after the ship’s crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces,” a Houthi statement about the attack read.

The statement said that the Houthis will not stop the attacks in the Red Sea until the Israeli “aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted.”

The British Embassy in Sanaa said at least two “innocent sailors” had died in the attack in a post to X.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the deaths were “sadly inevitable.”

“The Houthis have continued to launch these reckless attacks with no regard for the well-being of innocent civilians who are transiting through the Red Sea, and now they have unfortunately and tragically killed innocent civilians,” Miller said at a department briefing.

‘The United States will continue to hold the Houthis accountable for their attacks, which have not just disrupted international commerce, not just disrupted the freedom of navigation and international waters, and not just endangered seafarers, but now tragically killed a number of them,” he said.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have upped their attacks on vessels since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

In the wake of the uptick in Houthi attacks, the US formed a coalition, made up of more than 20 countries, aimed at safeguarding commercial traffic in the Red Sea from attacks by the Houthis.

In mid-January, with support from other countries, the US and Britain targeted just under 30 Houthi locations with 150 different weapons. The two countries have continued to strike Houthi targets since.

The Houthis have been unfazed by the strikes and have vowed to continue to target ships in the Red Sea.