Shipping giant Maersk said on Sunday it was suspending the passage of vessels through a key Red Sea strait for 48 hours, after Yemeni rebels attacked one of its merchant ships.
The Maersk Hangzhou, a Singapore-flagged, Denmark-owned and operated container vessel en route from Singapore to Port Suez in Egypt, reported being struck by a missile while transiting the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
It appeared to be undamaged in that attack and "was able to continue its transit north", said Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies.
It was then attacked by four ships operated by Yemen's Houthi rebels, which "engaged fire in an expected attempt to board the vessel", the Danish shipping company said.
The US military said navy helicopters sank three of the ships while the fourth fled.
"In light of the incident -- and to allow time to investigate the details of the incident and assess the security situation further -- it has been decided to delay all transits through the area for the next 48 hours," said a Maersk statement.
The Houthis have repeatedly targeted Israel-linked vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane with strikes in support of Palestinians in Gaza suffering under Israel's relentless bombardment and ground invasion.
The health ministry in Gaza said at least 21,822 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the Israeli war on Gaza erupted on 7 October.
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