World holds breath as US ship ‘hijacked’ off coast of UAE – Iran tensions sky-rocket

Iran 'must pay the price' for attack says Gardiner

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A group of eight or nine armed people are believed to have boarded the vessel amid reports a tanker has been seized. UK Maritime Trade Operations described the incident as a “potential hijack”.

A security source told Sky News there was an “unauthorised” boarding in the Gulf of Oman.

They said: “It was an unauthorised boarding in the Gulf of Oman.”

It is believed that there is no British link to the tanker.

According to MarineTraffic.com, oil tankers known as Queen Ematha, Golden Brilliant, Jag Pooja and Abyss were “not under command”.

This means a vessel has lost power and can no longer steer.

This latest incident comes amid rising tensions with Iran following an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman, which killed a British citizen.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Iran must “face the consequences” of its “outrageous” attack.

Mr Johnson’s comments came after Iran’s ambassador to the UK was summoned to the Foreign Office after his country was blamed for a fatal attack on an Israeli-linked tanker.

The Government department said Iran’s ambassador to the UK had been summoned in response to the “unlawful attack on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman on 29 July, in which a British national and Romanian national were killed”.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Mohsen Baharvand, was summoned today to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office by the Minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly, in response to the unlawful attack committed on MV Mercer Street on 29 July.

“Minister Cleverly reiterated that Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security, and reinforced that vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”

On Sunday, the UK said it was “highly likely” Iran carried out an “unlawful and callous attack”, which left a Briton dead.

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government believed the drone attack on a ship in the Middle East was “deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran”.

He said: “The UK condemns the unlawful and callous attack committed on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman, which killed a British and a Romanian national.

“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed in the incident.

“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran.

“UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on July 29 using one or more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.

“The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack.”

Iran has denied responsibility after Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blamed it for the attack, but he has now been backed by Mr Raab.

Britain’s position on the matter has also been backed by the US after Anthony Blinken said he was “confident that Iran conducted this attack”.

Responding to Israel’s accusations, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the allegation his country was responsible for the attack as “baseless”.

The tanker, named Mercer Street, is managed by Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

The tanker, which did not have any cargo on board, had been on its way from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Fujairah, United Arab Emirates when it was attacked.

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