Iran confirms explosion at Red Sea vessel

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TEHRAN, Iran 

Iran confirmed on Wednesday that an Iranian-flagged merchant ship was struck by an explosion in the Red Sea a day earlier.

The blast occurred off the shores of Djibouti at around 06:00 local time on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

The source and type of the explosion are currently being investigated, Khatibzadeh said.

The spokesman said the explosion caused minor damage without any casualties or injuries among the ship crewmembers.

The vessel, MV Saviz, was a civilian ship deployed on the transit routes of the ships in the Red Sea as part of Iran’s efforts to fight piracy and ensure sea safety, he noted.

Khatibzadeh said that the ship was used as a logistics stop for Iranian ships in the Red Sea and its mission and characteristics were officially notified to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

On Tuesday, multiple media reports said the Iranian-flagged vessel had come under attack in the Red Sea off the coast of Eritrea, with speculation rife that Israel could be behind the incident.

Earlier reports suggested that the intelligence reconnaissance vessel Saviz, linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was targeted by magnetic mines.

The attack was reported late on Tuesday, hours after Iran held its first round of talks with Western powers in Vienna in a bid to salvage the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Tensions between Iran and its long-time adversary Israel have escalated in recent months, especially after the new administration of President Joe Biden in Washington expressed willingness to revive diplomacy with Tehran.

Tensions heightened further after Iran accused Israel of assassinating its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, after which both sides intensified activities in regional waters.

The two sides have on many occasions in the recent past accused each other of attacking vessels in the region.

There have so far been no official statements on the latest incident from Tel Aviv.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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