The Iranian army said the missile attacked the ship in a “friendly fire” incident, killing at least 19 sailors and injuring 15
At least 19 sailors were killed and 15 wounded after an Iranian missile collided with a target ship near the target during a training session in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian army claimed. The friendly firefighting took place on Sunday near the Port of Jask, approx. 1270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran in the Gulf of Oman, the Army website said in a statement on Monday.
State television described the accident as saying that Konarak, a Hendijan-class auxiliary ship hit by the missile, had set targets in the water for other ships to shoot and fell too close to the target.
“The Iranian Moudge-class frigate Hendijan accidentally hit the Konarak ship using a rocket during the exercise,” Iran’s Tasnim party official news agency reported.
According to Iranian media, Konarak was remodeled in 2018 and was able to launch naval missiles. The Dutch-built 47-meter (155-foot) vessel has been in operation since 1988. It was not immediately clear how many crew were on board the warship at the time of the accident. At least 20 people were killed and 40 crew members aboard the Konarak, according to the Anadolu agency in Turkey.
According to Anadolu, the incident was blamed on “human error”, citing sources from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran regularly practices in the Gulf of Oman, which closes the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow estuary of the Gulf, through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. The Iranian media rarely report accidents that occur during the exercises, highlighting the seriousness of the incident.
The incident also occurs at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
Relations between the two enemies have been plummeting since 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his countries from the 2015 nuclear deal between key powers and Iran. Washington then re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, ruining its economy. Hostilities deepened in early January when the United States assassinated Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Iran took revenge on January 8 by firing missiles at Iraqi bases where U.S. troops were stationed.On the same day, Iranian armed forces shot down a Kiev Boeing 737 passenger plane over Tehran and killed all 176 people on board. The military acknowledged the catastrophic mistake, saying it came because Iran’s air resistance was under extraordinary alarm after missiles were closed on U.S. targets in Iraq.