A vessel chartered to carry aid to Yemen by the United Nations was targeted by shelling as it approached the country’s main port city of Aden, officials from the city have reported.
Officials from Aden’s provincial government told the AFP news agency on the condition of anonymity that Iranian backed Shiite Houthi militias were responsible for the shelling attack.
"The Houthis fired shells at a ship chartered by the UN that was carrying 7,000 tonnes of food... when it was within a nautical mile of Aden's port," they said, stating that the ship was not hit by the strikes.
"The ship was forced to turn back and by night time it was about five to eight nautical miles from Aden," he continued, stating that the ship headed back towards its home destination of Djibouti.
An official from the South western city’s port corroborated the report, saying that "The Houthi fire forced the ship to turn back as it approached the port."
He stated that the Houthis were "imposing a food blockade on areas of Aden under the control of the Popular Resistance Committees,” a group of pro-government forces fighting off waves of Houthi attacks on the city.
Backed by Iran, the Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September through an armed uprising, causing the Yemeni government to flee to Aden after the group attempted to disband it in January.
Houthi forces began a military campaign to take Aden in April, forcing the government to escape Yemen to neighbouring ally Saudi Arabia, where it has set up its office in the country’s capital Riyadh.
Pro-government forces continue to clash with Houthi forces across the country as an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia launches air strikes to prevent further gains by the Houthi militia.