Iranian missile hits own naval vessel, killing at least one sailor: state media

DUBAI (Reuters) – An Iranian missile struck a support ship in a friendly-fire incident, killing at least one Iranian sailor and wounding several others during a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, Iranian media reported on Monday.

The Gulf of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz – through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes.

During the exercise, the Konarak support ship had remained “too close” after releasing a target, and was hit by a missile launched from another Iranian vessel, state broadcaster IRIB said.

“Iran’s Moudge-class frigate Jamaran accidentally hit the Konarak ship with a missile during the exercise, in which at least one person was killed and 16 people were wounded,” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran’s armed forces regularly hold exercises in the region.

“The incident took place in the perimeter of Iran’s southern Jask port on the Gulf of Oman during Iranian Navy drills on Sunday,” state TV said, quoting the Iranian navy.

The Konarak support ship is a domestically made missile-launching warship commissioned in 2018, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

“The circumstances of the incident are currently undergoing technical examinations,” Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA said.

The incident took place at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

Tensions between arch foes have spiked since 2018, when the United States withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, and Washington re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, crippling its economy.

Animosity between the two sides deepened in early January when a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. Iran retaliated on Jan. 9 by firing missiles at bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed.

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