“5-6 armed Iranians” responsible for hijacking oil tanker off UAE – report


“Five to six armed Iranians” hijacked the tanker in the Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to recorded radio traffic, AP reported Wednesday. The radio traffic was obtained by Argus Media, a commodity pricing company, according to AP. A conversation between the crew members can be heard in radio traffic, with one crew member stating that “five to six armed Iranians are on board the ship.”

When asked what the Iranians were doing on the ship, the crew member responded by saying he couldn’t understand them. “We are drifting. I can’t tell you when we’ll get to Sohar, ”he reportedly added.

The hijackers left the ship on Wednesday morning, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported. in Gulf of Oman waters “and that the Sultanate’s Navy had deployed several ships to help secure international waters. On Tuesday, three maritime security sources said Iran-backed forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf off the United Arab Emirates Two of the sources identified the vessel as a Panama flagged asphalt / bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess in an area of ​​the Arabian Sea leading to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil exports pass by sea.

Iran’s foreign ministry called reports of security incidents involving several ships near the coast of the United Arab Emirates “suspect”, and warned against any effort to create a “false atmosphere” against the Islamic Republic.

Tensions simmered in the region after a drone attack last week on an Israeli-run tanker off the Omani coast killed two crew members. The United States, Israel and Britain all blamed Iran for the attack. Iran has denied any responsibility.

The Bahrain-based U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet and UAE officials did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Tuesday’s incident.

UK Maritime Commercial Operations (UKMTO), in a warning notice based on a third-party source, had previously reported a “potential hijack” and advised vessels to exercise extreme caution due to an incident about 60 nautical miles east of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. emirate.

The British Times newspaper also reported that the Asphalt Princess had been hijacked, citing British sources as saying they “were working under the assumption that the Iranian military or proxies boarded the ship.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, at least five ships sailing between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “Not Under Command,” according to Refinitiv’s ship tracking data. Such a status generally indicates that a vessel is unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances.

Reuters could not confirm that this Refinitiv data was related to the reported incident.

The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to last week’s attack on the Mercer Street, a Japanese oil tanker, flying the Liberian flag, operated by the Israeli company Zodiac Maritime.

Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged drone attack and said on Monday it would respond quickly to any threats to its security.

Longtime adversaries Iran and Israel have traded accusations of carrying out attacks on each other’s ships in recent months.

Tensions have increased in Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that crippled its economy.

The White House called reports of a second reported attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman “of deep concern.”

“We are monitoring this evolving situation and we are in close contact with London and other partners who are also monitoring around the world,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “The first reports are deeply worrying.”



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