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US shoots down Houthi missile aimed at American warship in Red Sea, officials say

The missile came from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, U.S. officials said.

January 15, 2024, 2:44 AM

A U.S. fighter aircraft shot down a missile fired toward an American warship from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, U.S. military officials said.

The USS Laboon was fired on in the Southern Red Sea at about 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, U.S. Central Command said on social media.

"The missile was shot down in vicinity of the coast of Hudaydah by U.S. fighter aircraft," officials said. "There were no injuries or damage reported."

PHOTO: In this file image from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon approaches the oiler USNS Kanawha, on the horizon, for replenishment-at-sea operation in the Red Sea on Dec. 25, 2023.
In this file image from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon approaches the oiler USNS Kanawha, on the horizon, for replenishment-at-sea operation in the Red Sea on Dec. 25, 2023.
Elexia Morelos/US Department of Defense/AFP via Getty Images

The missile launch on Sunday appeared to be the first such attack by the Houthi militants since American and British forces unleashed a series of large-scale retaliatory airstrikes against multiple Houthi targets inside Yemen.

The Houthis, an Iran-backed militant group, have for weeks been attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea, a gateway to the Suez Canal, one of the world's most heavily traveled shipping routes.

There have been at least 27 attacks on international commercial shipping, President Joe Biden said Friday.

Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, two of the world’s largest shipping companies, have diverted container ships away from the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, sending them instead on the longer journey around the Cape of Good Hope.

More than 2,000 commercial ships have been rerouted to avoid the Red Sea, Biden said.

PHOTO: In this file image obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon transits the Suez Canal on Dec. 18, 2023.
In this file image obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon transits the Suez Canal on Dec. 18, 2023.
Elexia Morelos/U.S. Department of Defense/AFP via Getty Images

The retaliatory strikes by the United States and United Kingdom were a "defensive action" following the attacks on commercial vessels, Biden said in a statement issued Thursday.

"I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary," he said.

ABC News' Luis Martinez and Nathan Luna contributed to this story.

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