Five Armed Invaders Surrender to US Forces

( — US Navy destroyer USS Mason intervened on Sunday to stop the hijacking of a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, which later resulted in two ballistic missiles being fired toward the destroyer from Yemen, the New York Times reported.

According to a statement from USCENTCOM, which oversees US operations in the region, the missiles targeting the Mason fell far short of the mark, landing about 10 nautical miles away in the Gulf of Aden.

The USS Mason, along with other vessels from the US-led counter-piracy task force operating off the coast of Somalia, responded to a distress call from the commercial cargo ship The Central Park. The crew reported that the vessel was under attack by an unknown entity, according to CENTCOM.

When the task force vessels arrived, they demanded that the pirates release the ship. Five armed men fled the vessel and attempted to escape in the small boat they used to hijack the ship. The Mason pursued the pirates and forced them to surrender, CENTCOM reported.

About sixteen hours later, at around 1:41 a.m. Monday, the two ballistic missiles were fired toward the Mason.

CENTCOM would not say who was responsible for the attempted hijacking or if the pirates were acting under the orders of a terror group or state. However, US officials said they are investigating whether Iran or one of its proxies was involved or if the attack was unrelated to the escalating tensions in the region.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen last week attacked several commercial ships, including The Central Park, in the Red Sea next to the Gulf of Aden.

US officials said it isn’t clear if the same group was responsible for Sunday’s hijacking since the Gulf of Aden is outside of the Houthi’s area of operations.

According to the London-based Zodiac Maritime, which manages The Central Park, the ship and crew are safe and unharmed.

Zodiac Maritime is owned by Israeli-born shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

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