Yemen's Houthis claim missile attack on oil tanker in Red Sea

Panama-flagged crude oil tanker Pollux transits

DUBAI (Reuters) -Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on the oil tanker M/T Pollux, which U.S. officials said the previous day had been hit by a missile.

"The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a targeting operation against a British oil ship (Pollux) in the Red Sea with a large number of appropriate naval missiles," Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a statement, adding the strikes "were accurate and direct".

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said on Saturday that four anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Iranian-backed Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Red Sea over several hours on Friday.

Centcom assessed that at least three of the missiles were launched towards the M/T Pollux, which it said was a Panamanian-flagged, Denmark-owned, Panamanian-registered vessel. There were no reported injuries, the statement said.

The U.S. State Department said on Friday that the vessel, which was carrying crude oil bound for India, was hit by a missile on its port side.

M/T Pollux embarked from Russia's Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk on Jan. 24 and was due to discharge in Paradip, India, on Feb 28, according to LSEG data.

The Houthis have launched repeated drone and missile attacks against international commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel wages war on Hamas.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elimam and Adam Makary; Editing by Stephen Coates and Frances Kerry)