Tensions are rising in the Middle East over latest attacks on oil tankers. USA is blaming Iran for attacks on two tankers in Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The tankers are owned by Japan and Norway. They were hit by blasts while navigating waters close to strategically important Strait of Hormuz between Iran and United Arab Emirates. Around fifth of world's oil passes through the Strait, which is just 68km at its narrowest point. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was behind "blatant assault" on the vessels. He said the U.S. would defend itself and its allies against "Iranian aggression" in region. However, he provided no evidence that Iran was behind attacks.
The attacks are second such incidents carried out against tankers in past month. Two Saudi tankers were sabotaged in UAE port of Fujairah last month. The U.S. says the latest tankers were hit by mines and posted video online of supposed Iranian forces removing unexploded mine off hull of one of ships. Iran's Foreign Minister described the attacks as "suspicious". He said Iran's navy was investigating them. Iran called the U.S. accusations "unfounded," "inflammatory" and "Iranophobic". The Japanese owner of one of tankers said his vessel was struck by some kind of missile and not by mine. The United Nations cautioned that truth needed to be "clearly established".