At least 19 Killed as Iranian Navy accidentally bombs own warship in Persian Gulf

Several reports emerged on Monday that an Iranian missile struck a naval vessel taking part in an exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday, killing at least 19 sailors and wounding 15 others.

According to the state TV report, the Iranian army said  the friendly fire incident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometres (790 miles) southeast of Tehran, in the Gulf of Oman .

Meanwhile, Iran's armed forces regularly partake in training exercises in the sensitive region. The Gulf of Oman connects to a key waterway that has been the site of a number of attacks on oil tankers over the past year, the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's oil passes.

During the exercise, the Moudge-class frigate Jamaran accidentally hit the Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship that the army said was too close to a target. The Konarak had been putting targets out for other ships to hit.

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 capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.

Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during its exercises, signaling the severity of the incident.

Local journalists on social media reported that the frigate was targeted by a missile launched by the Jamran frigate.

The missile targeted the ship and automatically directed through the radar, without the opportunity for the ship’s crew to keep an eye out for it and know its coordinates, adding that “the damned missile did its job well.”

Reports added that the affected crew was transported from the ship to Chabahar Port, and the official death toll not least then nineteen and other 15 injured .

It is noteworthy that the Konarak ship is Iranian-made and has been operating in the third area of ​​Iranian naval operations for two years. This incident also comes amid months of heightened tensions between Iran and the US, since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country.

A spate of tanker seizures and attacks on oil infrastructure hit the Gulf last year, with the US and its allies in the region - Saudi Arabia and the UAE - mainly blaming the incidents on Iran.

Hostility deepened in January this year when a US drone strike killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. Tehran responded by firing missiles at an Iraqi base hosting US troops, injuring dozens in the process.


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