Dec 23 (Reuters) – A drone launched from Iran struck a chemical tanker in the Indian ocean early on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
“The motor vessel CHEM PLUTO, a Liberia-flagged, Japanese-owned, and Netherlands-operated chemical tanker was struck at approximately 10 a.m. local time (6 a.m. GMT) today in the Indian Ocean, 200 nautical miles from the coast of India, by a one-way attack drone fired from Iran,” a Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters.
The incident highlights escalating regional tensions and new risk to shipping lanes after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
The Iranian government, as well as its allied militant forces in Yemen, have publicly criticized the Israeli government’s military operation in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinian citizens have been killed in the ongoing conflict, according to aid monitors.
The Pentagon statement said this was the “seventh Iranian attack on commercial shipping since 2021.”
There were no casualties as a result of the attack and a brief fire on board the tanker was extinguished. The incident took place only 200 nautical miles from the coast of India.
A spokesperson for the Iranian delegation at the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Daniel Wallis)