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Yemeni rebels seize UAE ship

A photograph released by Ansar Allah shows the vehicles and boats that were loaded on the deck of the cargo landing ship Rwabee . (Ansar Allah)

The Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) announced on 3 January that it had seized an Emirati military cargo ship in Yemen's territorial waters off the Red Sea province of Al-Hudaydah.

“After carefully monitoring the activity of this ship, its destination, and its cargo, directives were issued to seize it within the legitimate defence of our country and our people and to transfer it to Salif port,” Yahya Saree, the group's spokesperson, said in a press conference.

He did not indicate how the ship was seized but displayed photographs and video footage showing a civilian landing ship called Rwabee loaded with various types of military support vehicles with the logo of the Royal Saudi Land Forces and two rigid-hull inflatable boats with the logo of the Saudi Border Guard. The only weaponry shown in the video were Kalashnikov assault rifles piled up in a shipping container.

Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki, the spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels, said Rwabee was carrying a Saudi field hospital back from the Yemeni island of Socotra to the Saudi port of Jizan when it was hijacked in an act of piracy late on 2 January. He demanded that the vessel be released immediately.

Automatic identification system tracking data shows Rwabee , which is registered to Liwa Marine Services in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sailing through Yemeni territorial waters on the eastern side of the Zubair islands when it changed course to head for the mainland in the early morning of 3 January.

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