Iran to release seven crew members of detained British tanker

An aerial view shows a speedboat of Iran's Revolutionary Guard moving around the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. (File/AP)
Updated 04 September 2019

Iran to release seven crew members of detained British tanker

  • The remaining 16 crew members would remain onboard to operate the vessel
  • The Swedish-owned Stena Impero was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on July 19 in the Strait of Hormuz

DUBAI/LONDON: Iran will free seven crew members of the detained British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, Iranian state television reported on Wednesday, although the vessel’s owner said it had yet to receive any official confirmation of the release date.
The Swedish-owned Stena Impero was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on July 19 in the Strait of Hormuz waterway for alleged marine violations, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. That vessel was released in August.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the TV that the seven, who include Indian citizens, were allowed to leave the tanker on humanitarian grounds and could leave Iran soon.
“We have no problem with the crew and the captain and the issue is violations that the vessel committed,” Mousavi said.
The Stena Impero’s 23 seafarers are of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality, the vessel’s Swedish owner Stena Bulk has said.
“We are very pleased that for seven crew members their ordeal may soon be over, and they may return to their families, however we cautiously await official confirmation of their release date,” Erik Hanell, Stena Bulk’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.
“We view this communication as a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus.”
The company said the remaining 16 crew members would remain onboard to safely operate the vessel.
VESSELS ATTACKED
Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping trade association, said Iran had to immediately release the remaining mariners once the seven crew had been freed.
“The ship was in international waters when it was detained and was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations,” Sanguinetti said.
“The Chamber will continue to work with the UK Government to ensure the free passage of ships through the Strait of Hormuz.”
Several international merchant vessels have been attacked in the Gulf this year in incidents that have rocked world commodity trading. Washington blames Iran, which denies the accusation.
Iran has denounced US efforts to set up a coalition and says countries in the region can protect waterways and work toward signing a non-aggression pact.
The seizure of the Adrian Darya 1 Iranian tanker exacerbated tensions between Tehran and the West that have been growing since the United States last year quit an international accord curbing Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions.
The Revolutionary Guards said separately on Wednesday that its navy detained seven trawling vessels with 24 foreign crew near the mouth of the Gulf for fishing too close to Iran’s coast and other violations, the ISNA news agency reported.
A Guards statement did not give the crews’ nationalities, but Iranian media have often carried reports of complaints from local fishermen about Chinese ships active in bottom trawling, which involves dragging a large net across the sea floor.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 28 min 39 sec ago

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.