Politics

Iran naval accident kills 19 during exercise

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An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing at least 19, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US.

The friendly fire incident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, in the Gulf of Oman. Iran’s army said 19 people died and 15 were injured.

The missile struck the Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, taking part in the exercise.

State television described the missile strike as an accident, saying the Konarak had remained too close to the target. The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water for other ships to fire upon, it said.

Iranian media said the Konarak had been overhauled in 2018 and was able to launch sea and anti-ship missiles. The Dutch-made, 47-metre (155-foot) vessel was in service since 1988 and had a capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.

Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is closed to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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