Two crew members of an oil tanker managed by a major Israeli businessman’s company were killed off Oman in what appears to be a drone attack, the vessel’s London-based operator and the U.S. military said Friday, with Israel blaming Iran.
U.S. Navy forces came to the aid of the crew in response to an emergency distress call and saw evidence of the attack, said an American military statement. It added that initial indications “clearly point” to a drone-style attack, and that U.S. Navy ships were now escorting the vessel with U.S. personnel aboard to help.
Analysts said the attack bore all the hallmarks of tit-for-tat exchanges in the “shadow war” between Israel and Iran, in which vessels linked to each nation have been targeted in waters around the Persian Gulf. The Israeli official warned that “our campaign against them (Iran) will continue.”
The vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, traveling from Dar es Salaam to Fujairah with no cargo onboard when the attack occurred, it said. “We are not aware of harm to any other personnel,” it said in a statement, adding that the Japanese-owned tanker was back under the control of its crew and was steaming to an undisclosed “safe location” under U.S. naval escort.