A cargo vessel operated by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen (NYK Line) has been seized by Yemen’s Houthi militants in the Red Sea.
The vessel, named Galaxy Leader, is a British-owned ship chartered by NYK Line for transporting automobiles.
As reported, the crew of 22, including Bulgarians and Filipinos but no Japanese or Israelis, is confirmed to be on board.
Japan’s transport ministry and NYK Line are actively confirming the crew members’ safety and the incident’s details.
The Houthi rebels, allies of Tehran and backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for seizing the ship, asserting it as an act of targeting Israeli-affiliated vessels.
They stated the crew is being treated in accordance with Islamic principles.
However, Israel clarified that it has no involvement in the vessel’s ownership or operation, and no Israelis were onboard.
Israel labeled the incident as an act of Iranian terrorism, escalating tensions and impacting the security of global shipping routes.
The cargo ship was en route from Turkey to India, sailing between Saudi Arabia and Sudan, as per the last signals received.
The Houthis, escalating their offensive, have been launching missile and drone attacks on Israel in solidarity with Palestinian Hamas militants in the ongoing Gaza conflict.
Houthis Sponsored by Iran
Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sarea warned that any ship affiliated with Israel would be a legitimate target, emphasizing their commitment to operations against Israel until the Gaza offensive ceases.
Major Israeli media outlets suggest the ship’s owning company might have Israeli connections, potentially influencing the Houthis’ targeting decision.
The Houthi rebels, significantly empowered by Iran, have increased activities in the Red Sea, threatening navigation safety.
In response, Japan’s Coast Guard has issued warnings to all Japanese ships in the region, and Japan’s defense officials are gathering more information about the incident.
The capture of Galaxy Leader, now potentially a bargaining chip in negotiations, marks a concerning escalation in regional maritime security.
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