Ship linked to Israeli billionaire reportedly attacked off Oman
An oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire reportedly came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, authorities said Friday, as details about the incident remained few. The attack on Thursday night targeted Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street just northeast of the Omani island of Masirah. The location is over 300 kilometers (185 miles) southeast of Oman's capital, Muscat.
Several Israel-linked ships have been targeted in recent months
Israeli officials did not immediately acknowledge the attack. However, it comes amid heightened tensions between it and Iran as negotiations remain stalled over Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. Other Israel-linked ships have been targeted in recent months as well amid a shadow war between the two nations, with Israeli officials blaming the Islamic Republic for the assaults.
The attack supposedly did not involve piracy: British Military Group
A brief initial statement from the British military's the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said an investigation was underway into the incident, which it described as happening late Thursday night. Not much elaborated, the statement said that it suspected the attack did not involve piracy. On Thursday, the British military group had said it was investigating another unexplained incident in the same area.
Vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean during the incident
London-based Zodiac Management, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Group, issued a statement saying the Japanese-owned ship was the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street. The British Defense Ministry earlier misidentified the ship's owners. Zodiac Management described the attack as piracy. During the incident, the vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, traveling from Dar es Salaam to Fujairah with no cargo on board.
Oman did not acknowledge an attack
Satellite tracking data from MarineTraffic.com showed the vessel had been near where British officials said the attack occurred. Oman did not acknowledge an attack and officials there did not respond to requests for comment. The US Navy's 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast, did not respond to a request for comment.
Incident comes amid heightened tensions over Iran's tattered nuclear deal
The incident comes amid heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear deal and as negotiations over restoring the accord have stalled in Vienna. Since then President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, there have been a series of ship attacks in the region suspected to have been carried out by Tehran. Iranian media quoted foreign reports on the attack but didn't elaborate.