Fishermen bring a boat to shore to keep it safe from tropical Cyclone Megh in Mukalla, Yemen on Monday. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: The Yemeni government has warned fishermen against coming closer to ships of a Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Iran-allied Al Houthis in the country.

The warning comes amid growing threats by Al Houthi militants to international navigation.

Last month, Al Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers off Yemen’s West Coast, prompting the kingdom to halt the crude shipments through the Red Sea Bab Al Mandeb Strait, a suspension that was reversed on Saturday.

The Yemeni government said in a statement, carried by the official news agency Saba, that Al Houthis use fishing boat as a camouflage in attacking commercial vessels.

“Presence of fishing boats in operation zones of the coalition vessels is exploited by Al Houthis in threatening sea navigation in the south part of the Red Sea and Bab Al Mandeb,” the statement said.

It instructed the ministries of the interior and fisheries to take the necessary measures to enforce the warning and make the fishermen aware of areas where they can operate safely in territorial waters.

In September 2014, Al Houthis overran the Yemeni capital Sana’a in a coup against the internationally recognised government.

In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition initiated a campaign in Yemen against Al Houthis after the militiamen advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.

In June this year, Yemeni government forces, supported by the Arab Coalition, unleashed a major offensive to expel Al Houthis from the Red Sea city of Hodeida and its crucial port.

The forces have since made territorial gains against the Iran-allied extremists.

Coalition jets had mounted a series of strikes against positions of Al Houthis in the district of Al Durahimi, regarded as the southern gateway to Hodeida, news portal Adan Al Ghad reported on Sunday.

The strikes were in support of a mop-up operation by pro-government Giants Brigades against Al Houthis in the district, the report added, citing sources linked to the group.

The attack inflicted heavy casualties and losses on the militia, they said. Dozens of Al Houthi fighters were also captured.

Hodeida is strategically important because of its harbour, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter through it to the country.

The coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of the harbour to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war efforts.

The battle for Hodeida, controlled by Al Houthis since late 2014, is the biggest in Yemen’s war.