RIYADH: Naval forces from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen foiled an attempted attack on an unidentified commercial ship in the southern Red Sea on Monday by the Houthis, which the group denied.

Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the Western-backed military alliance had destroyed an unmanned boat laden with explosives which the militants had used for the attack, Saudi state news agency SPA reported without providing more details.

A Houthi military spokesman denied targeting commercial shipping in the area, the group’s Al Masirah TV reported, calling the claims “pure slander and completely baseless”.

Last year, Saudi Arabia paused oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb for more than a week after the Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. The strait is only 20 km (12 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships easy potential targets.

On June 12, a Houthi missile attack on Abha airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.

Human Rights Watch denounced the strike as an apparent “war crime”, urging the Houthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

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