Iranian Navy 34 sailors killed and injured in a friendly missile strike

Iranian Navy 34 sailors killed and injured in a friendly missile strike

TEHRAN - The Iranian Navy said Monday that a missile struck a warship in a friendly-fire incident during a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman leaving 19 sailors dead and 15 others wounded.

The Iranian Navy, according to state TV's website, said: "The vessel was hit after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target."

The friendly fire incident involving the Konarak vessel occurred near Bandar-e Jask, off the southern coast of the Islamic republic on Sunday.

The Konarak is a light logistical support vessel made in the Netherlands and purchased by Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Weighing 447 tonnes and 47 metres (154 feet) long, the Hendijan-class vessel is equipped with four cruise missiles, according to state television.

It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board the warship at the time of the accident.

Iran and its arch enemy the United States have traded barbs in the past year over a spate of incidents involving their forces in the sensitive Gulf waters.

Tensions have escalated since 2018 when the US withdrew from a multinational accord that froze Iran's nuclear programme and reimposed crippling sanctions on its economy.

Tasnim news agency said in an English-language tweet that the Konarak had sunk after being hit by the missile fired by another Iranian warship.

"Konarak was 'sunk by friendly fire' after Moudge-class frigate 'Jamaran' accidentally shot (it) with a missile during live firing exercise in Jask area of #PersianGulf waters on 10th May."

Tasnim did not mention the detail in its Persian-language report on its website.

Iran's armed forces in January mistakenly shot down a Kiev-bound Boeing 737 passenger jet shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard.

The military admitted to the catastrophic error, saying it came as Iran's air defences were on high alert after firing a barrage of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq.

Iran launched the missiles in retaliation for the United States' killing of its top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike days before that. - APP/AFP