Iran calls sabotage in Mediterranean Sea “terrorist attack”

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Iran calls sabotage in Mediterranean Sea

An Iranian National Shipping Company (IRISL) cargo ship sustained minor damage after a “terrorist attack” in the Mediterranean while en route to a European port earlier this week, the company said in a statement, Tehran Times reported today, March 13.

Container ship Shahr-e Kord was injured while sailing on the high seas on Wednesday, March 10, IRISL spokesman Ali Qiasi said. According to him, the hull of the vessel was slightly damaged, the people on board were not injured.

According to the Iranian English-language Press TV, a small fire broke out after the explosion, which was quickly extinguished by the crew.

The vessel, Ali Qiasi added, will continue its route after damage assessment and repairs. Where the container ship is currently located is not specified.

Such “terrorist attacks” are a prime example of sea piracy and contradict international law on the safety of commercial ships, IRISL said, promising that Tehran will conduct a thorough investigation “through appropriate international institutions to identify the perpetrators.”

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claimed last Thursday that Israel was involved in a clandestine campaign of attacks on Iranian ships carrying oil and weapons to Syria starting in 2019. Israeli attacks began at the end of the year before last and were aimed at both Iranian ships and other merchant ships carrying cargo from Iran, the WSJ said, citing officials in Washington.

IRISL was blacklisted by the United States in mid-2020 due to the fact that the American side accused this company of transporting goods “related to Tehran’s missile and nuclear program.”

As topnews reported on February 26, the MV Helios Ray, an Israeli-owned merchant ship, was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman. Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi said the attack was for Israel “a reminder that Iran is spreading terrorism and acting against civilian targets.” Prior to this, Israeli Defense Minister Beni Gantz indicated that “based on the location and context, the Iranians are behind the attack on the ship in the Gulf of Oman.”

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The owner of the vessel flying the flag of the Bahamas is the Israeli company Ray Shipping, registered in the British Isle of Man. The ship was seriously damaged, but there were no casualties. “There were 28 crew members on board. Nobody was hurt, as was the engine room (of the ship), ”the company informed after the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on March 1 that Iran was responsible for an attack on a Jewish-owned merchant ship in the Gulf of Oman (in the northwest of the Arabian Sea, connects to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz). “This is clearly an Iranian operation, it is obvious,” Netanyahu said at the time. Iran categorically denies any involvement in the incident.

It is still unclear what caused the explosion, which punched two huge holes in the left side of the vessel and two in the right, just above the waterline. The incident is reminiscent of the summer of 2019, when the US military blamed Iran for a series of alleged attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The US Navy command claimed that Iran used mines designed to be magnetically attached to the hulls of ships. Iran even then denied any involvement in the alleged attacks.