UAE Says Four Commercial Vessels Targeted by 'Sabotage Operations' Near Iran

Local government denied earlier on Sunday media reports about blasts at the port of Fujairah, according to a statement tweeted by its media office

FILE Photo: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018.
Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

>> Update: Two Saudi oil tankers targeted in Sunday's 'sabotage attack' near Iran

Four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that there were no victims.

"Subjecting commercial vessels to sabotage operations and threatening the lives of their crew is considered a dangerous development," the ministry said in a statement that was tweeted by the official news agency WAM. 

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Fujairah

The ministry gave no details about the nature of the sabotage and said it had launched an investigation in coordination with international authorities. It said the incident did not result in any spills. 

The government of Fujairah, a member of the United Arab Emirates federation, denied earlier on Sunday media reports about blasts at the port of Fujairah, according to a statement tweeted by its media office.

Later Sunday, a senior Iranian lawmaker said that explosions near Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates showed that the security of Gulf states is fragile. 

"The explosions of Fujairah showed that the security of the south of the Persian Gulf is like glass," Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament's national security committee, wrote on his Twitter account. 

Fujairah, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, is one of the largest bunkering hubs in the world. The strait is vital oil and natural gas corridor for the global energy market.

The statement didn't identify the media outlets that published these reports but the Iranian Press TV website cited a Lebanese broadcaster, Mayadeen, saying seven oil tankers were attacked in the port. "The media office of the government of Fujairah denies the veracity of the media reports saying strong explosions rocked the port of Fujairah this morning," it said. "The operations at the port are going as usual."

The White House said the move was aimed at countering "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there. 

The U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said it was aware of the report when contacted by Reuters but referred queries to the UAE authorities. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said they had no comment at this time when contacted by Reuters.

Tensions are running high in the region after the U.S. military sent forces, including an aircraft carrier, to the Middle East to counter what the White House says are "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there.