Yemen’s Houthi rebels released three vessels and 16 people they had seized, South Korea’s foreign ministry and a Houthi military source said on Wednesday.
The seizure on Sunday was the latest incident at sea around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a Western-backed coalition of Arab states against the Houthis, who control the capital and most population centres.
Of the vessels freed on Tuesday, two were South Korean and one was Saudi Arabia-flagged, the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement, adding the families of two South Koreans among the crew had been notified.
“The three ships were released after the necessary legal measures,” the Houthi military source in Yemen told Reuters news agency, adding all crew were also freed.
On Twitter, Hussein al-Azzi, the Houthi deputy foreign minister, said the release resulted from friendly ties between Seoul and Sanaa, the Yemeni capital the Houthis overran in 2014.
A Houthi investigation found the ships entered Yemeni waters because of bad weather, al-Azzi added. Earlier, the Houthi coastguard said the vessels entered Yemeni waters without permission.
The Houthis said they would release the captured vessels if they proved to be South Korean, after it seized a rig being towed by a Saudi-flagged tugboat in the southern part of the Red Sea.