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India is closely monitoring developments following seizure of United Arab Emirates (UAE) flagged ship Rwabee off the port of Hodeidah in Yemen by Houthis on 2 January, ministry of external (MEA) spokesperson said on Tuesday.

In response to media queries on Indian sailors on ship, Arindam Bagchi said, India is in touch with the company operating the ship.

Out of 11 crew members on board the ship, seven are from India. All Indian crew members are safe and India is making all efforts to secure their early release.

Further, the MEA spokesperson urged Houthis to ensure safety, well-being of crew members and release them immediately.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls northern Yemen had earlier hijacked a United Arab Emirates-flagged cargo vessel which it said was engaged in "hostile acts" but which the Saudis said was carrying hospital equipment.

The ship was heading to the Saudi port of Jizan, just north of Yemen, from the Yemeni Red Sea island of Socotra when it was attacked just before midnight on Sunday, Saudi state news agency SPA reported, quoting coalition spokesman Brigadier General Turki al-Malki.

Yemen has been gripped by the conflict between the government forces led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi Ansar Allah movement for years. The situation was further complicated after Saudi Arabia joined the conflict on the side of Yemen's government in 2015, launching air, land and sea operations against the Islamist rebel movement.

Since February 2020, Houthis have been carrying out a large-scale operation against the Yemeni army in Marib to gain control over the province, which is also a political, military, and economic centre.

 

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