Saudi Arabia says 2 oil tankers damaged in attack off UAE coast
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 9, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/AHMED YOSRI
Cairo, May 13 (efe-epa).- Two Saudi Arabian oil tankers were damaged after they were targeted in waters off the United Arab Emirates, Saudi minister of energy said Monday.
The attack on the two vessels off the emirate of Fujairah came as they were preparing to cross into the Persian Gulf, Khalid al-Falih said in a statement issued by the official Saudi Press Agency.
No victims were reported but the attack caused “significant damage,” he added.
From Iran, foreign ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi called for a clarification of what he described as the exact dimensions of the incident, adding that they were alarming and regrettable.
“Such incidents will have a negative impact on the security of shipping and maritime transport in the region,” he said in a statement published through the official IRNA news agency.
In the statement, he called on Middle Eastern states “to be alerted about the conspiracies orchestrated by ill-wishers to undermine the stability and security in the region.”
One of the two vessels was on its way to the Saudi port of Ras Tanura early Sunday to be loaded with crude oil destined for United States customers of state-run oil company Saudi Aramco, according to al-Falih.
The Saudi minister said the attack was aimed at undermining the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers worldwide.
Additionally, al-Falih said the responsibility of the international community was to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers.
He did not mention how the ships were sabotaged or who was responsible.
On Sunday, the UAE Foreign Ministry said that four commercial ships were targeted in an incident east of Fujairah, providing no further details.
This incident comes amid growing tension in the region between Iran and the US.
In April, the US announced the end of the exemptions it had granted to eight nations, China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, to buy Iranian oil.
Tehran said that if the US blocks its oil exports it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important marine trade routes.
Last month, the US designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, to which Tehran responded by putting US troops deployed in the Middle East on its list of extremist groups.