Iranian destroyer attacks Iranian warship during drill, at least 19 dead: Iran TV

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An Iranian destroyer has accidentally attacked another Iranian warship during naval exercises in the Arabian Gulf, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens, according to a statement from Iran's navy on Iranian state TV.

Iran’s “Konarak” warship was “mistakenly” targeted by a missile fired by its “Jamaran” destroyer during a military drill in the Gulf of Oman late Sunday, Iranian state TV reported early Monday, following tweets from regime accounts and local journalists.

The initial, unconfirmed media reports of the incident said that up to 40 naval personnel, including the commander of the Konarak warship, have been killed.

Iranian state TV then said the death toll was “at least one person.”

Several hours later, Iran's navy announced that at least 19 people had been killed in what it described as a friendly-fire incident. The statement added that a further 15 sailors had been wounded.

A combined image released by Iran's Press TV reportedly showing the 19 sailors who were killed int he incident. (Press TV, Twitter)
A combined image released by Iran's Press TV reportedly showing the 19 sailors who were killed int he incident. (Press TV, Twitter)

What happened?

“The incident took place in the perimeter of Iran’s southern Jask port on the Gulf of Oman during Iranian Navy drills on Sunday. At least one person was killed and several were injured,” the broadcaster said, quoting the Iranian navy.

The light support “Konarak vessel was struck with a missile yesterday afternoon during a military exercise in the waters of Bandar-e Jask” off Iran's south coast, it said on its website.

“The vessel was hit after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target,” it added.

The Konarak warship, built in Iran, entered service in 2018. The Jamaran destroyer, also built in Iran, entered service in 2010 and is equipped with anti-ship missiles.

Iran’s military is expected to issue a more detailed statement within the next few hours.

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Tensions in the Arabian Gulf

The incident comes amid ongoing naval tensions between Iran and the US and its allies in the Arabian Gulf, and against a backdrop of Iranian military accidents.

Last month Iran and the US exchanged a war of words after vessels belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) harassed US ships in international waters.

In response, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani then accused the US of “plotting against the Iranian nation every day” and urged the Iranian military to “stay vigilant.”

“I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the [Arabian] Gulf that threatens security of Iran’s military or non-military ships,” added IRGC head Hossein Salami.

Tensions spiked again after Iran launched a satellite, which the US says is cover for its missile program.

While analysts have suggested that neither side wants an outright conflict, especially amid coronavirus, they have warned that a mistake could easily trigger an escalation.

Iran has recently made several errors resulting in the death of its own people.

In January, the Iranian military said it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 multinational people onboard, after denying responsibility for several days.

With agencies.

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