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.
Saudi Arabia confirmed that two Saudi oil tankers sustained “significant damage”. Another vessel was Norwegian-registered, whilst the fourth was reportedly UAE-flagged.
“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.
Few details have been released about the incident, which is said to have taken place at about 06:00 (02:00 GMT) on Sunday within the UAE’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of the emirate of Fujairah.
“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.
Thome Ship Management, a Norwegian firm which manages the ship, said in a statement that it had been “struck by an unknown object on the waterline” while anchored off Fujairah.
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 reported incident comes as the U.S. has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.
Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis.
Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.