Iran firm says ship targeted in ‘terrorist’ attack

Tehran: An Iranian company said Friday one of its vessels was targeted this week in a “terrorist” attack using an explosive device in the Mediterranean Sea, state television reported.

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The cargo ship, named Iran Shahr-e-Kord and owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines group (IRISL), was en route from Iran to Europe when its hull was hit with “an explosive device” on Wednesday, the group’s spokesman Ali Ghiasian was quoted as saying.

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Ghiasian called the incident a “terrorist action and an example of maritime piracy”.

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“A small fire started where the explosion had occurred, but it was quickly extinguished … and none of the crew were hurt,” he said.

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“Legal proceedings will be taken to identify the perpetrators through related international bodies,” he added.

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The company official did not disclose the ship’s current location and cargo, but said “it will continue its route after assessing and repairing the damage”.

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The incident comes less than two weeks after Tel Aviv had accused arch nemesis Tehran of being behind an attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman, charges strongly denied by Iran.

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In a Thursday report quoting US and Middle East officials, the Wall Street Journal said that Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil since late 2019.

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It said the Jewish state has used weapons including “water mines” to target the vessels.

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Responding to a question by AFP in Jerusalem, Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said “we do not comment on reports by foreign media.”

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“But we will continue to fight against the terrorism and everything that helps terrorism, including its sources of revenue”, he added.

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IRISL was blacklisted by the US in mid-2020 over what the Department of State described as the transportation of items related to Iran’s missile and nuclear programme.

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Former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and world powers in 2018 and reimposed punishing sanctions on the Islamic republic.

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