May 23, 2019
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Saudi oil tankers attacked before entering Persian Gulf

 Khalid A. Al-Falih, chairman of the Joint OPEC-non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) and Minister of Energy Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 7, 2018, reissued May 13, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/FLORIAN WIESER

Khalid A. Al-Falih, chairman of the Joint OPEC-non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) and Minister of Energy Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 7, 2018, reissued May 13, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/FLORIAN WIESER

Dubai, May 13 (efe-epa).- Two Saudi Arabian oil tankers suffered significant damage in an attack over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, the kingdom's energy minister said, amid heightened military tensions in the Persian Gulf, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report made available to EFE on Monday.

The Saudi tankers were attacked at 6 am Sunday off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates as they prepared to cross into the Persian Gulf, the minister, Khalid al-Falih said Monday.

The attack didn't cause an oil spill, Falih said through the official Saudi Press Agency, but resulted in "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels." He referred to the incident as sabotage.

The United States said last week that it was sending an aircraft carrier, bombers and a Patriot antimissile battery to the Persian Gulf to counter what the Trump administration says is a growing threat from Iran.

Washington has placed crippling economic sanctions on Iran to force it to give up regional influence, scale back its military activities and stop threatening Israel.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the incident "dreadful" and called for an investigation into it, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

"Such incidents have a negative impact on maritime transportation security", he said, adding that countries in the region should be "vigilant against destabilizing plots of foreign agents".

Saudi authorities didn't place blame for the attack. One of the ships was headed to the Saudi port of Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf to load oil bound for the US, Falih said.

The attack on Saudi ships happened the day the UAE reported attacks on four commercial vessels near its territorial waters off the coast of the eastern emirate of Fujairah.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE said whether the Saudi ships were among those four vessels.

The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic choke point for the world's oil supplies, Dow Jones added in a report made available to EFE.

A third of the world's liquefied natural gas and of the oil shipped by sea flows through the strait for export from Persian Gulf countries.

Falih called on the international community to protect maritime navigation and oil tankers, noting the danger to energy markets and the global economy.

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