Four cargo vessels sabotaged off UAE as US warns of possible attacks on shipping

Saudi Arabia confirms oil tankers suffered significant damage, while US puts out advisory warning of attemps by attackers to disrupt commercial shipping in Arabian Gulf.
Iran, US, Attack, Shipping, Cargo ship, Fujairah, Saudi arabia

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Four cargo vessels were subjected to "sabotage operations" off the coast of Fujairah, according to the UAE's Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said the attacks took place on Sunday morning off the coast of Fujairah, but did not elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or the individuals or nations involved.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said acts of sabotage on civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board "is a serious development".

No injuries or fatalities were reported and there is no threat to the marine environment, the statement added. An investigation is ongoing.

The statement came after the UAE government denied foreign media reports of explosions at the Port of Fujairah.

Reports that between seven and 10 oil tankers anchored at the port were in flames were shared widely on social media accounts on Sunday.

The Foreign Ministry described the claims as "baseless and unfounded" and warned the public to only trust information from official sources.

On Monday, The National reported that Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih had confirmed two Saudi oil tankers were among the vessels attacked, suffering "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels".

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Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the GCC called on international organisations concerned with maritime navigation to prevent such acts by any parties attempting to undermine maritime traffic safety and security.

"Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger," he said.

The misinformation and the confirmed acts of sabotage come at a tense time in the region, with Iran last week suspending compliance with parts of the 2015 nuclear deal and the United States on Thursday warning of possible Iranian attacks on commercial shipping in the Gulf.

“Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, or the [Arabian] Gulf,” the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) said in an advisory.

“Reporting indicates heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and interests.”

The Strait of Hormuz is considered to be the most important oil chokehold in the world, with 20% of the world’s oil supply transported through the Strait every day.

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