03/17/2017 07:02 am ET

CAIRO/DUBAI (Reuters) – Thirty-one Somali refugees had been killed off the coast of Yemen late on Thursday when a helicopter attacked the boat they had been touring in, an area coast guard within the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah space mentioned.

Coast guard Mohamed al-Alay advised Reuters the refugees, carrying official UNHCR paperwork, had been on their approach from Yemen to Sudan after they had been attacked by an Apache helicopter close to the Bab al-Mandeb strait.

A sailor who had been working the boat, Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, mentioned 80 refugees had been rescued after the incident.

It was not instantly clear who carried out the assault.


Over 30 Somali refugees had been killed when a helicopter attacked their vessel off the coast of Yemen.

Hodeidah on the Crimson Sea is managed by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen’s capital Sanaa and compelled the Saudi-backed authorities of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

A Saudi-led coalition was fashioned in 2015 to combat the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who’ve fired missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The Bab al-Mandeb is a strategic waterway on the foot of the Crimson Sea by which practically four million barrels of oil are shipped each day to Europe, the US and Asia.