Politics

Iranian missile kills 19 sailors in ‘friendly fire’ training incident

Nineteen Iranian sailors have been killed and 15 injured in an accident involving two Iranian warships, the country’s navy has said.

A new anti-ship missile being tested in the Gulf of Oman hit a support vessel, the Konarak, in a “severe blow to the prestige of the Iranian military”, The Guardian reports.

The paper quotes an Iranian state TV report that said the ship was struck “after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target”.

“Human error” was to blame for the friendly fire, says Al Jazeera, citing Turkey’s Anadolu news agency and “sources in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps”. Anadolu reported that up to 40 crew members were on board the Konarak when the missile struck. 

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A funeral for the dead sailors was held today at a naval base in the southwestern port city of Chahbahar, reports Euronews. It says Iran often holds exercises in the Gulf of Oman, close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which “20% of the world’s oil trade passes”. 

Coming just months after Iranian forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran, killing 176 passengers, the “bungled training exercises raised new questions about the readiness of the Islamic Republic’s armed forces amid heightened tensions with US”, Al Jazeera reports

“Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during its exercises,” it adds, “highlighting the severity of the incident”.

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