Maritime security incident reported off coast of UAE

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A “possible hijacking” occurred off the coast of the Fujairah region of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, the UK Maritime Trade Agency reported, without giving details of the vessel or vessels involved.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had advised in an earlier advisory, based on a third source, that ships should exercise extreme caution due to an incident about 60 nautical miles east of Fujairah.

The Arabian Sea area leads to the Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately one-fifth of the world’s seaborne oil exports flow.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

On Tuesday afternoon, at least five vessels at sea between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “Not in command,” according to Refinitiv vessel tracking data. This status generally indicates that a vessel is unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances.

Reuters could not confirm that this Refinitiv data had any bearing on the reported incident.

Last week, an attack on an Israeli-run oil tanker off the coast of Oman killed two crew members and was attributed to Iran by the United States, Israel and Britain.

Iran denied involvement in that alleged drone strike and said Monday it would respond swiftly to any threat to its security.

The United States and Britain said Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to the attack on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.

In recent months, Iran and Israel have accused each other of carrying out attacks on their vessels.

Tensions have been rising in the Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.

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