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White House calls on world leaders to help stop ‘reckless’ Houthi attacks after civilian sailors killed

White House officials are calling on governments around the world to join efforts to stop Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from attacking cargo ships in the Middle East, after three civilians were killed Wednesday when missiles fired by the terrorist group struck a bulk carrier transiting the area of the Red Sea.

The Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier True Confidence was traveling through the Gulf of Aden at about 11:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday, when it was targeted by Houthi missiles, forcing the survivors to abandon ship.

‘Today, the Houthis have killed innocent civilians by continuing their reckless attacks against international commercial shipping, which impacts countries throughout the world,’ White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a press briefing. ‘These reckless attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis have not only disrupted global trade and commerce but have also taken the lives of international seafarers simply doing their jobs.’

She continued by saying the White House offers its condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

The White House also condemned the Houthis for the attacks and called on governments from around the world to do the same by joining the U.S. in bringing the ‘appalling attacks’ to a halt.

U.S. Central command said Wednesday’s attack resulted in three fatalities and at least four injuries, of which three are in critical condition.

The ship was also severely damaged and has been evacuated. It is now drifting.

The full extent of the damage to the ship remained unclear, but the crew abandoned the ship and deployed lifeboats. 

A U.S. warship and an Indian Navy vessel were on the scene, trying to assist in rescue efforts. 

The Houthis have been targeting ships in the Red Sea and its surrounding waters since November 2023. In response, the U.S. and the U.K. have launched ‘self-defense’ airstrikes against Houthi targets inside Yemeni territory. 

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, wrote on Wednesday that the attack on the True Confidence was carried out in ‘retaliation to the American-British aggression against our country.’ 

The operators of the ship told Reuters that it was hit about 50 nautical miles southwest of the Yemeni port of Aden.

There were reportedly 20 crew members on board the ship, as well as three armed guards, they added.

U.S. Central Command said this is the fifth anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Houthis over the past two days. Two of the missiles struck two shipping vessels, including the MSC Sky II and True Confidence, while a third missile was shot down by the USS Carney.

On March 2, the United Kingdom-owned M/V Rubymar sank in the Red Sea after being struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile two weeks prior.

‘We currently assess that the damage sustained to the undersea cables in the Red Sea is a result of the Houthis’ Feb. 18 missile attack against the M/V Rubymar, which has now sunk,’ U.S. Army Major Pete Nguyen said. ‘The damage sustained to the M/V Rubymar as a result of the Houthi attack forced the crew to drop anchor and abandon ship.  Preliminary assessments indicate the anchor dragging along the seafloor is likely to have cut the undersea cables that provide internet and telecommunications service around the world. Ongoing Houthi attacks have also hindered attempts to repair the cables. Despite their claims to the contrary, this incident highlights how the Houthis’ reckless actions can detrimentally impact others in the region.’

Fox News’ Greg Norman and Meghan Tome contributed to this report.

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