US kills Houthi rebels after attack on Maersk vessel in Red Sea

The US said it received a second distress call in less than 24 hours from container ship Maersk Hangzhou in the Red Sea, and its helicopters were fired upon by Houthi rebels as it rendered help.

The Navy helicopters responded with an attack that sunk three boats and killed the rebels, the US Central Command said in a post on X. The second distress call came at 6:30 a.m. Sanaa time on Sunday.

The US earlier said it shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles launched by Houthi rebels after a request for assistance by the Singapore-flagged, Denmark-owned container ship. The Maersk Hangzhou had reported being struck by a missile at 8:30 p.m. Sanaa time on Saturday.

In the second attack, four small boats originating from Yemen got to within 20 meters of the Maersk Hangzhou and attempted to board it, according to the US statement. Helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely responded to the distress call.

“In the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the US helicopters with crew served weapons and small arms,” it said. The fourth boat fled and there was no damage to US personnel or equipment, according to the statement.

There has been more than 20 attacks by the Houthis on international shipping since Nov. 19. The US and a number of other nations have formed a maritime task force to respond to the Red Sea attacks.

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