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Saudi Arabia says 2 oil tankers damaged in Sabotage attacks

Saudi Arabia says 2 oil tankers damaged in sabotage attacks

Saudi Arabia’s minister of energy said Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in attacks that caused “significant damage” to the vessels, one of them as it was en route to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.
Khalid al-Falih, the minister, made the claim as the United States issued a new warning to sailors and the United Arab Emirates’ regional allies condemned the reported sabotage Sunday of four ships off the coast of the port city of Fujairah. The announcement came just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at the city’s port.
Emirati officials have declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or say who might have been responsible. However, the reports come as the United States has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.
Tensions have risen in the year since President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis. Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
In his statement, Mr. al-Falih said the attacks on the two tankers happened at 6 a.m. Sunday.
“One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States,” Mr. al-Falih said. “Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”
Saudi Arabia did not identify the vessels involved, nor did it say whom it suspected of carrying out the alleged sabotage.
Underlining the regional risk, the general-secretary of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council described the alleged sabotage as a “serious escalation” in an overnight statement.
“Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger,” said Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani said, the general secretary of the Guf Cooperation Council. Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen’s internationally recognized government similarly condemned the alleged sabotage.
A statement Sunday from the Foreign Ministry of the United Arab Emirates put the ships near the country’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of the port of Fujairah. It said it was investigating “in cooperation with local and international bodies.” It said there were “no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels” and “no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel.”