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Iranian Ships Fire Shots at Singapore Tanker In The Persian Gulf

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 15, 2015

Iranian patrol boats opened fire on a Singapore-flagged oil tanker as it moved through the Strait of Hormuz in a confrontation, reports Reuters.

The Alpine Eternity, a ship flagged to Singapore, fled toward the shore of the United Arab Emirates, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Nobody was injured.

The Alpine Eternity issued a radio call for help and the Iranian boats fired a second wave of warning shots, the officials said. 

The incident reflects rising tensions in the Gulf, fuelled in part by the conflict in Yemen that pits Iranian-backed Shiite rebels against pro-government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states. 

There were no U.S. personnel on the vessel, according to CNN. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, and representatives for the Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.

Agence France-Presse added that the Alpine Eternity called for help from the United Arab Emirates.     The Alpine Eternity issued a radio call for help to the UAE and the Iranian boats fired a second wave of warning shots, the officials said.

UAE authorities heard the radio call and deployed coast guard boats in response. The Iranian boats then departed the area, the officials said.

The White House, Pentagon and State Department declined to confirm emerging details about the episode but acknowledged concern about Iran's conduct."This is exactly the type of challenge that many of the (Gulf) partners are focused on," said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

This was not the first time that Iranian naval forces acted as a menace in that critical international shipping lane. Shortly after that episode, American officials revealed that Iran had attempted to intimidate an American-flagged ship in a similar manner just days earlier.

Following the seizure at sea of the Maersk Tigris in late April, the United States began providing escorts to ships passing through the Straits of Hormuz, but recently stopped the practice.

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