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UK ready to assist over suspected attacks on tankers in Gulf of Oman

Sailors were forced to evacuate when one of the tankers was left ablaze and the other adrift.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman (AP Photo/ISNA)
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman (AP Photo/ISNA)

The UK is prepared to assist in any rescue effort or investigation over the “completely unacceptable” suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Downing Street has said.

The two civilian ships were damaged off the coast of Iran on Thursday amid heightening tensions between the US and Tehran, but many details remain unclear.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington that the government blames Iran for attacks, with its assessment based in part on intelligence and also a recent series of incidents including a similar attack on tankers last month.

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An Iranian navy boat sprays water to extinguish a fire on an oil tanker in the sea of Oman (AP Photo/ISNA)

In a statement on Twitter he added: “It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran.”

An alert urging “extreme caution” was issued by the Navy-run United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations following reports of explosions.

Sailors were forced to evacuate when one of the tankers was left ablaze and the other adrift.

Theresa May’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “Attacks on civilian vessels like these are completely unacceptable.

“We are in contact with international partners and are ready to assist in any rescue effort or investigation.”

PA

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