Saudis halt oil shipments through waterway after Houthi attack

Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted all oil shipments through a key waterway after Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) attacked two crude vessels, AFP reported Wednesday (July 25th).

"All oil shipments through Bab al-Mandab Strait have been suspended temporarily until... maritime transit through the area is safe," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement released by state media.

Two oil tankers operated by the Saudi shipping group Bahri, each with a two million barrels capacity, were attacked by the Houthis in the Red Sea, state giant Aramco said in a statement.

"One of the ships sustained minimal damage. No injuries nor oil spill have been reported," Aramco said.

The oil giant said the decision to suspend shipments was "in the interest of the safety of ships and their crews and to avoid the risk of oil spill".

Earlier, the pro-Houthi Al-Masirah television said that the militia had targeted a Saudi warship named al-Dammam, without providing further details.

The coalition has repeatedly raised alarm that the Houthis threaten vessels in the Red Sea -- a key shipping route for world trade -- through their control of the strategic al-Hodeida port.

The Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping routes, is the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

"This terrorist attack is a dangerous threat to the freedom of navigation and international trade in the Red Sea," said Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Arab coalition.

"Port of al-Hodeida is still the starting point of terrorist attacks," he said.

Pro-government forces backed up by the coalition have paused their offensive on al-Hodeida port in a bid to give UN-led peace efforts a chance.

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