Published On: Sat, Apr 13th, 2024

Iran blamed after armed men attack ship near Strait of Hormuz | World | News


‘Commandos’ are reported to have boarded a vessel in a busy international shipping lane off the coast of Iran sparking fears the pariah state is involved in the attack.

AP reports a video seen by the press agency shows soldiers raiding a ship near the Strait of Hormuz by helicopter Saturday, an attack a defence official attributed to Iran amid wider tensions between Tehran and the West.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow stretch of sea separating the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is a critical “choke point” for international trade and oil distribution.

A defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, shared the video with the AP which the agency said showed commandos rappelling down onto a stack of containers sitting on the deck of the vessel.

A crew member on the ship could be heard saying: “Don’t come out.” He then tells his colleagues to go to the ship’s bridge as more commandos come down on the deck. One soldier can be seen kneeling above the others to provide them potential cover fire.

It’s understood the attack corresponds to known details of a boarding, and the helicopter involved appeared to be one used by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which has carried out other ship raids in the past.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations showed a report on X describing a ship being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah.

The vessel involved is likely the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship reportedly part of a group owned by an Israeli billionaire.

 

Iran did not immediately acknowledge seizing any vessel, nor was there any report carried by state media about the incident.

However, Iran since 2019 has engaged in a series of ship seizures and had attacks on vessels attributed to it amid ongoing tensions with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes.

Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

Since 2019, the waters off Fujairah have seen a series of explosions and hijackings. The US Navy blamed Iran for limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers.



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