Britain says Royal Navy ship has shot down an attack drone over the Red Sea

LONDON (AP) — A Royal Navy warship has shot down a suspected attack drone that was targeting Commercial ships in the Red Sea, Britain's Defense Secretary said on Saturday.

Grant Shapps said HMS Diamond fired a Sea Viper missile and destroyed a drone that was "targeting merchant shipping." The overnight action is the first time since the 1991 Gulf War that the Royal Navy has shot down an air target in anger.

Shapps said attacks on commercial ships The blockade of a global trade artery by Yemen's Houthi rebels "poses a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security."

"The UK is committed to thwarting these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade," he said in a statement.

Global shipping has become a target during the war between Israel and Hamas, which like the Houthis is backed by Iran. The Houthis have launched a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea, as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel.

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Earlier this month, three commercial ships were attacked in the Red Sea by ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen, and a US warship shot down three drones during the attack, the US military said.

On Friday, Maersk, the world's largest shipping company, told all its ships planning to pass through the Bab el-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea to "pause their voyages until further notice" after a missile attack on a Liberian-flagged cargo ship. .

HMS Diamond was sent to the area two weeks ago as a deterrent along with ships from the US, France and other countries.

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