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Damaged tankers reach safe waters after Gulf attacks

DUBAI:  Two damaged tankers arrived safely Sunday at locations off the Emirati coast after they were rocked by explosions in Gulf waters.

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday when it came under attack along with the Norwegian-operated Front Altair — the second assault in a month in the strategic shipping lane.

US President Donald Trump has said the operation had Iran “written all over it” — rejecting Tehran’s vehement denial while Saudi Arabia too accused Iran.

In his first public comments since the attacks, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in remarks published Sunday that he would not hesitate to tackle any threats to the oil-rich kingdom.

“We do not want a war in the region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

He said Iran had responded to a visit to Tehran by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese”.

Abe had been on an unprecedented visit to the Iranian capital in a bid to defuse tensions between Washington and the Islamic republic when the attacks took place.

The US military on Friday released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from the Japanese vessel.

On Sunday, it said Iran had unsuccessfully tried to shoot down a US drone on a surveillance mission following the attack on the Kokuka Courageous.

The vessel’s Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said in a statement Sunday that it had “arrived safely at the designated anchorage” and that its crew were “safe and well”.

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