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Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks' as Gulf tensions soar

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Fujairah (UAE): Saudi Arabia said yesterday two of its oil tankers were damaged in mysterious "sabotage attacks" in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran.

Tehran called for an investigation into the "alarming" attacks and warned of "adventurism" by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

Britain warned of the danger of conflict erupting "by accident" in the Gulf.

The US has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats.

Saudi Arabia, the Islamic republic's regional arch-rival, condemned "the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates", a foreign ministry source said.

"This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security," the source added.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there were no casualties or any oil spill.

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