OK lets get the deisel smuggling out of the way- daily shipments from Yemen to Africa of government subsidized diesel. (Related: Daily Star: US Navy rescues 52 stranded Somalis.)
The much bigger issue is the exploding fishing boat. Its unclear that any missile hit it at this point; its could have been laden with explosives or carrying an aged gas canister and blew up accidentally. Its important for the international fleet to remain vigilant about the danger of maritime terror attacks in the Gulf of Aden. There is good reason to assume a defensive position after the USS Cole bombing (and the later Limburg). The sailors on the Cole waved at the approaching boat; the Navy cannot repeat that mistake, especially now when its easy to be desensitized by having dealt with the Somali pirates for a year or more. The rules of engagement should not allow hapless lost Yemeni fishermen to approach military vessels, blame it on al Badawi.
A statement from al Qaeda Central called for naval jihad (May 26 2008), the October one by a Yemeni forecast a major event around Somalia. The links between AQAP in Yemen and al Shabab go back to the ICU and before. Its a predictable scenario that AQAP would attempt to outdo the Cole bombing when the waters are full of such tempting targets. And I don’t necessarily mean al Wahishi.
Why Yemeni fishermen are near the Sudan is another question. The Yemeni flight school for small planes that flies back and forth between Yemen and Sudan is something, what I don’t know. Its could be normal criminal smuggling activity, spotters for pirates or something entirely innocuous.
Two Yemeni fishermen were killed and one was injured while the fate of a fourth one is still unknown after their boat came under an aggressive assault by one of the international naval ships patrolling the Red Sea near Sudan on Tuesday.
A source at the Coast Guard said Abdu Marwani and Muhammad Naj’e were killed immediately after their boat was totally destroyed by a missile which some suspect was an air strike. Sources at Yemen’s navy said it probably came from sea.
While the third fisherman made it to Sudanese coast and is now in critical condition. The fishermen came from the Midy area, Hajjah before their boat was hit near Sudan’s waters.
A coordinated investigation by Yemen and Sudan is underway to explore reasons for the attack.
Meanwhile, director of the Midy district Abdul Majeed Al-Himyari dismissed reports a Yemeni boat was attacked in Yemen’s territorial waters, saying the incident took place while the boat was in Sudan’s territorial waters. He told the media the survivor is being investigated by Sudan.
Tuesday’s attack comes in a series of attacks against Yemeni fishing boats by international forces patrolling the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Early this year, two Yemeni sailors were killed as their boats came under separate attacks by international troops in the Indian Ocean. Few others were hurt, with troops saying they suspected the boats were for pirates and then hit them.
And this month, the Interior Ministry said a Yemeni boat was provoked, with NATO’s mission in the region intimidating its crew.
The area where the boat was hit on Tuesday is witnessing large fuel smuggling, with eyewitnesses affirming boats smuggle diesel to African Horn States daily.