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Iran Claims Its Oil Tanker Was Hit by Two Missiles off Saudi Arabia

Tehran is calling it a terrorist attack, and the company that owns the tanker initially blamed Saudi Arabia before retracting the claim.

by David Gilbert
Oct 11 2019, 10:43am

An Iranian oil tanker was reportedly struck by two missiles in a terrorist attack just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Tehran claimed on Friday morning.

The ship, called the Sabiti, is owned by the state-run National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) who said in a statement that the hull of the ship sustained two separate explosions while it was located 60 miles off the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

The company initially said the missiles were fired from Saudi Arabia, but subsequently withdrew the claim. Saudi officials have yet to comment on the attack.

The two blasts happened 20 minutes apart, with the first hitting at 5 a.m. local time (9 p.m. ET Thursday). The NITC said they were “probably caused by missile strikes.”

"All the ship's crew are safe and the ship is stable too," the NITC, the tanker's owner, said, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage.

The state-owned company said contrary to reports, "there is no fire aboard the ship and the ship is completely stable.” Oil prices spiked by 2 percent on the news.

The attack comes after months of escalating tensions in the Gulf region, with Tehran blamed for attacks on oil tankers, shooting down a U.S. military spy drone, and conducting a devastating attack on two Saudi oil facilities.

Tehran has not said who it believes is behind Friday’s attack, but official sources speaking to the semi-officials Iran's Students News Agency (ISNA) claimed that “experts believe it was a terrorist attack.”

Oil leaked from the vessel following the blasts, but those on board had managed to stem the flow. However, once the ship started to move, the oil began to leak again.

READ: Trump says not attacking Iran is a show of strength

“Those behind the attack are responsible for the consequences of this dangerous adventure, including the dangerous environmental pollution caused,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV.

Tensions in the region have been close to breaking point for almost a month when a devastating Sept. 14 attack on two Saudi oil facilities significantly damaged the country’s oil production capacity.

READ: Trump is convinced Iran was behind the massive attack on Saudi oil facilities

Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack — which used a combination of drones and cruise missiles — but U.S., U.K. and Saudi officials all pointed the finger at Tehran.

Cover: This photo released by the official news agency of the Iranian Oil Ministry, SHANA, shows Iranian oil tanker Sabiti traveling through the Red Sea Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Two missiles struck the Iranian tanker Sabiti traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian officials said, the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S. (SHANA via AP)

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