(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS PAPER)
The Saudi navy said it had captured three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from a boat seized last week as the vessel approached Saudi Arabia’s offshore Marjan oilfield, Riyadh has said.
Iran’s interior ministry denied the Saudi claim, however, saying that the Saudi navy had opened fire on two Iranian fishing boats.
Relations between the two countries are at their worst in years, as they support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and each accuses the other of destabilising regional security.
In a statement on Monday, the Saudi information ministry said: “This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped.
“The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are now being questioned by Saudi authorities,” the statement said, citing a Saudi official.
The vessel, which was seized last Friday, was carrying explosives and the those captured intended to conduct a “terrorist act” in Saudi territorial waters, the statement claimed.
An earlier report from the Saudi Press Agency said the Saudi navy had fired warning shots at the two boats that managed to escape.
But Majid Babaei, the director of Iran’s border agency, told the semi-official Youth Journalist’s Club (YJC) news agency that the Saudi claim was untrue.
“The issue is about two fishing boats and Saudis have fired at the boats, which resulted in the death of one fisherman. The people targeted were fishermen and the boats they were sailing on were fishing boats,” he said.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency said on Saturday that Saudi border guards had opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat in the Gulf on Friday, killing a fisherman. It said the boat was one of two Iranian boats fishing in the Gulf that had been pushed off course by waves.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily deteriorated. On 5 June, Riyadh and other Arab governments severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as a reason.
Days later suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed at least 17 people. Shia Muslim Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Islamist militants, including Islamic State. Riyadh has denied involvement in the attacks.
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