An oil tanker was damaged by an explosion on Wednesday near Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia, a port city on the Red Sea. The blast is believed to have been caused by a mine and hit the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged Greek-owned oil tanker.
“Their vessel was attacked by an unknown source,” said TMS Tankers, the company that owns the Agrari. “The Agrari was struck about 1 meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.” A British security firm reported the blast and said it was caused by a mine.
Saudi Arabia claimed its military destroyed a bomb-laden drone boat sent by Yemen’s Houthis and said a merchant ship was damaged in the process. It’s not clear from the reports if the Saudis were referring to the Agrari, but no other incidents involving merchant ships in the region have been reported.
The Houthis are usually quick to take credit for attacks inside Saudi Arabia or against oil infrastructure, but so far, they have not commented on the Agrari incident. Earlier in the week, the Saudis claimed they dismantled Iranian-made mines placed in the Red Sea by the Houthis.
The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Iran. Attacks on oil tankers in the region are usually blamed on Iran, regardless of whether there is evidence to back up the claim.
Houthi attacks are also often blamed on Iran when convenient for US and Saudi officials. But blaming the Houthis actions on Iran ignores the fact that the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has been waging a brutal war on the group in Yemen since 2015.