Iranian drone struck chemical tanker in Indian Ocean

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A chemical tanker operating in the Indian Ocean has been struck by an Iranian attack drone, a US Department of Defense official said. This is the seventh Iranian attack on commercial shipping since 2021, CNN reported. “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. Greenwich Mean Time) today in the Indian Ocean, 200 nautical miles from the coast of India, by a one-way attack drone fired from Iran,” the official said in a statement.

A one-way attack drone is designed to impact its target rather than return to its origin. “There were no casualties and a fire on board the tanker has been extinguished,” the defence official said, CNN reported. “No US Navy vessels were in the vicinity,” the statement said, adding Naval Forces Central Command was communicating with the struck vessel. The strike in the Indian Ocean comes as Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched more than 100 attacks against about a dozen commercial and merchant ships transiting the Red Sea over the past four weeks, CNN previously reported.

US Central Command reported more such incidents in a statement on social media Saturday. A crude oil tanker was hit by “a one-way attack drone”. There were no injuries, Central Command said. A separate chemical tanker operating in the southern Red Sea reported a “near miss” from a one-way drone, the command said. Also, two “anti-ship ballistic missiles” were fired into the southern Red Sea from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen but did not hit any vessels, the statement said, and the USS Laboon, a Navy destroyer, shot down four aerial drones that were heading toward it, CNN reported.

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