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Two crew killed in attack on Israeli-managed tanker off Oman

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DUBAI, July 30 (Reuters) – Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed when a petroleum products tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime came under attack on Thursday off Oman, the company said on Friday.

London-based Zodiac said on its website that the attack in the Arabian Sea on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, was “suspected piracy”, adding that it was still being investigated.

But Israel’s Channel 13 TV cited an Israeli official saying Iran staged the attack using a drone. There was no immediate reaction by Iran to the Israeli accusation.

Iran and Israel have traded accusations of attacking each other’s vessels in recent months. Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which provides maritime security information, said the attack was not piracy. The vessel was about 152 nautical miles (280 km) northeast of the Omani port of Duqm when it was attacked, it said.

Zodiac, which is owned by the wealthy Israeli Ofer family, said the ship was sailing under the control of its crew and own power to a safe location with a U.S. naval escort.

According to Refinitiv ship tracking, the Mercer Street, a medium-size tanker, was headed for Fujairah, a bunkering port and oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates, from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Lisa Barrington, Jonathan Saul and Dan Williams; Editing by Nick Macfie

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