Two crew members of an oil tanker managed by a prominent Israeli businessman's company were killed off Oman in what appears to be a drone attack, the vessel's London-based operator and the US military said Friday, with Israel’s foreign minister blaming Iran.
"Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that harms us all. The world must not be silent in the face of Iranian terrorism that also harms freedom of shipping," Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
US Navy forces came to the aid of the crew in response to an emergency distress call and saw evidence of the attack, said an American military statement.
It added that initial indications "clearly point" to a drone-style attack, and that US Navy ships were now escorting the vessel with US personnel aboard to help.
Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, said the incident on board the MT Mercer Street on Thursday killed one Romanian and a UK national, who was a guard for British maritime security firm Ambrey.
The vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, travelling from Dar es Salaam to Fujairah with no cargo onboard when the attack occurred, it said.
"We are not aware of harm to any other personnel," it said in a statement, adding that the Japanese-owned tanker was back under the control of its crew and was steaming to an undisclosed "safe location" under US naval escort.
Oman's state news agency said the country's navy dispatched a ship and confirmed the attack took place outside the sultanate's territorial waters.
Iran's state TV channel in Arabic Al-Alam, citing "informed regional sources", said the attack was a "response to a recent Israeli attack" targeting an airport in central Syria. It did not provide further details.