Yemen's Houthis claim attacks on four vessels in Red Sea and Mediterranean

DUBAI (Reuters) -Yemen's Houthi militant group on Friday claimed responsibility for attacking a Liberia-flagged vessel in the Red Sea that a maritime agency said had survived five missiles, while also saying they targeted three other vessels including two in the Mediterranean.

The Iran-aligned Houthis say their attacks on shipping lanes are in solidarity with Palestinians in the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas.

Yahya Saree, the Houthi military spokesperson, said in a televised statement that the group launched ballistic missiles at the Delonix, an oil tanker, and that it took a "direct hit".

However, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) monitor said earlier in the day that the ship, which was targeted 150 nautical miles (172 miles) northwest of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, reported no damage and was heading northward.

Saree also said the Houthis attacked the Ioannis ship in the Red Sea, as well as the Waler oil tanker and the Johannes Maersk vessel in the Mediterranean.

He said the Johannes Maersk, which is owned by Maersk , the world's second-largest container carrier, was targeted because it belongs to "one of the most supportive companies for the Zionist entity and the most that violates ban decision of access to the ports of occupied Palestine."

International shipping has been disrupted since November by attacks in the region launched by the Houthis. Many vessels have opted to avoid the Red Sea route to the Suez Canal, taking the longer journey around the southern tip of Africa instead.

(Reporting by Clauda Tanios, Tala Ramadan, Hatem Maher and Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Sharon Singleton, Kevin Liffey and Daniel Wallis)