UAE says 4 ships targeted by 'sabotage' off its east coast

Four commercial ships subjected to sabotage operations near UAE territorial waters, no fatalities or injuries reported

Four commercial ships subjected to sabotage operations near UAE territorial waters, no fatalities or injuries reported

The MOFAIC statement said that the carrying out acts of sabotage on commercial and civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board is a serious development.

Emirati officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage on Sunday, or say who might have been responsible.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih denounced the attack which he said aims "to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation, and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world", according to SPA.

Shortly after the Saudi announcement, Iran's Foreign Ministry called for further clarification about what exactly happened with the Saudi tankers. It said the UAE had taken all necessary measures and launched an investigation in coordination with global authorities.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, did not immediately offer comment. The port stands some 70 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, and is increasingly important amid Iranian threats to close the strait as a reaction to United States military moves in the region.

A senior Iranian lawmaker said that the explosions near Fujairah port showed that the security of Gulf states is fragile, Reuters reported.

The incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, the ministry said in a statement.

The facility handles oil for shipping, as well as general and bulk cargo.

The US has recently been escalating pressure on Iran in the area, dispatching a carrier strike group with a bomber force as a "warning". It is seen as strategically located, serving shipping routes in the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.

Mr Mousavi was cited by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying "such incidents have negative impact on maritime transportation security", and asking for regional countries to be "vigilant against destabilising plots of foreign agents".

Earlier this month, the Maritime Administration warned that USA commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through key Middle East waterways could be targeted by Iran in one of the threats to United States interests posed by Teheran.