Seven Pakistani sailors feared dead in Yemen airstrike

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KARACHI: One Pakistani sailor was killed while six others are feared dead when an unidentified fighter jet reportedly hit their ship in Yemeni waters, human rights activist Ansar Burney told The Express Tribune on Thursday.

Motor vessel ‘Jouya 8’, a general cargo ship registered in Iran, was reportedly targeted off the Hodeidah coast when it was travelling from Dubai to Egypt. A crew of eight, all of Pakistani origin, were onboard under the command of Captain Syed Anisur Rehman.

“One sailor, identified as Kabir Khadim, survived somehow by jumping off the ship and swimming to the Hodeidah port,” Burney said, adding that he was hospitalised and is being given medical care in the same city.

Khadim is said to be a radio officer. In a video shared by the human rights activist, he is seen as narrating the incident to someone on phone. He says that a missile from a jet hit their ship after which it sank.

He says another sailor Suhail Ahmed’s body is also at the same hospital. However, Khadim  in unsure about the fate of the rest of the crew. “I want to go home,” he says, asking the Pakistan Embassy in Yemen to make arrangements for him.

The date of the incident is not yet clear as the lone survivor, according to Burney, is in trauma and cannot recall how, where and when did this happen. According to Yemen’s state-owned Saba news agency, a boat carrying 12 Pakistani sailors was hit in a Saudi air raid off Mukha coast in the Yemeni province of Taez on December 4. In this incident, six sailors were killed while as many others were still unaccounted for, the news agency reported.

There is a tension under way between Saudi government and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Hodeidah city is said to be under the influence of Houthi militia.

Burney said since the incident was reported to him through his sources, he requested the Saudi, Iranian, Turkish and Russian governments to help find the missing sailors. He also appealed to Pakistan’s prime minister, army chief, and the naval chief to take notice of the matter and ascertain e facts.

Meanwhile, no independent confirmation of the incident could be made.

The size of the ‘Jouya 8’ is said to be 57 metres in length and 10 metres in width, according to its available information on the internet with maritime dedicated websites. According to a sailor, Syed Aun Zaidi, a crew of maximum 12 to 15 people is usually hired for this size of ships. The Express Tribune tried to contact the Karachi Port Trust spokesperson to seek details of the incident. However, he did not respond.

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