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US suspects Gulf of Oman ship hijackers were Iranian: State department

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The US believes Iranians hijacked the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess tanker in the Gulf of Oman but is not in a position to confirm, the US State Department said on Wednesday.

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“We can confirm that personnel have left the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess, this commercial vessel that was seized yesterday. We believe that these personnel were Iranian, but we’re not in a position to confirm this at this time,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

The event unfolded amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and as commercial shipping in the region has found itself caught in the crosshairs.

Most recently, the US, the UK and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman that killed two people.

Iran has denied involvement.

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