AFP: An explosives-laden boat carried out a “terrorist attack” that damaged a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week, the United Arab Emirates, where the ship docked for repairs, said on Friday.
By Mohamed Hasni
DUBAI (AFP) — An explosives-laden boat carried out a “terrorist attack” that damaged a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week, the United Arab Emirates, where the ship docked for repairs, said on Friday.
“The investigation and examination conducted by special teams have shown the tanker was attacked with explosives, prepared using traditional methods, which were loaded on a boat that approached the ship,” a UAE coastguard spokesman said on the official WAM news agency.
“UAE explosives experts… found a dent on the starboard side above the water line and remains of homemade explosives on the hull,” when they inspected the ship off the UAE port of Fujairah, the official said.
“Probably the tanker had encountered a terrorist attack from a boat loaded with explosives,” he was quoted as saying on the agency’s English-language website.
In Tokyo, Japanese Transport Minister Seiji Maehara said he had instructed ministry officials to ask the UAE authorities for details of the investigation, as requested by the prime minister, in order to conduct their own analysis on the cause of the attack.
Japan “should take a firm stance” in response to such incidents, Maehara was quoted as saying by Jiji Press, because they threaten Japan’s oil imports.
The world’s second biggest economy sources some 90 percent of its oil from the Middle East, much of it from the Gulf, where the oil tanker was sailing from.
Militant jihadists on Tuesday claimed a suicide bomber blew himself up on the ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines, which reported that one of its tankers, the M Star, appeared to have been hit by a blast on July 28 in international waters between Iran and Oman.
US monitoring group SITE Intelligence said the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam claimed in a message on jihadist websites that it had placed a suicide bomber on the tanker, identifying him as Ayyub al-Taishan.
It said the attack was carried out in the name of Omar Abdul Rahman, the Egyptian “Blind Sheikh” imprisoned in the United States for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
The attack sought “to weaken the infidel global order which is thrust unto Muslim lands and which loots its resources,” the brigade said, according to SITE.
“We delayed the publication of the statement until our heroes returned safely to their bases.”
The militants claimed that due to the potential effect of this attack on oil prices and the global economy, “the enemies of Allah concealed the reality of the operation.”
Mitsui OSK maintained the damage was caused by an attack despite reports it was caused by a freak wave.
The Japanese shipping firm said crew members saw a flash and heard an explosion shortly after midnight.
One crewman was slightly wounded in the blast, which caused minor damage to the vessel, including an indentation several metres (yards) across its hull, according to pictures published by WAM.
The Japan-bound boat — crewed by 16 Filipinos and 15 Indians — was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude oil from the Gulf but did not suffer a spill.
The ship arrived under its own steam at Fujairah for repairs, and an investigation into the incident was launched.
The UAE coastguard spokesman said the tanker left the port on Friday after the repairs were completed.
The Strait of Hormuz, less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) across at its widest point, separates Oman from Iran and is the gateway to the oil-rich Gulf.
The Bahrain-based US Navy Fifth Fleet said the vital shipping route, through which an estimated 40 percent of global oil exports passes, remained open on the day of the explosion.