Four commercial vessels were targeted by “sabotage operations” near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates without causing casualties, the foreign ministry said on Sunday, without giving details of the nature of the sabotage.
The incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, the ministry said in a statement.
Trading and industry sources said operations at Fujairah port ran smoothly on Sunday.
The strait, a vital global oil and gas shipping route, separates the Gulf states and Iran, which has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over U.S. sanctions and the U.S. military’s regional presence.
“Subjecting commercial vessels to sabotage operations and threatening the lives of their crew is considered a dangerous development,” according to the statement that was carried by state news agency WAM.
The statement, which did not identify the vessels beyond saying they were of various nationalities, said the incident did not result in spills. The UAE did not blame any country or other party for the operation.
Regional tensions have increased, with Washington saying it was sending a U.S. aircraft carrier and other forces to the Middle East due to what it said were Iranian threats, while Tehran has called the U.S. military presence “a target” rather than a threat.
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was aware of the UAE report but referred queries to the UAE authorities.