Iran seizes ship for alleged fuel smuggling in Gulf, holds 12 Filipino crew

Handout image obtained September 7, 2019, courtesy of Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies, reportedly shows the oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, near the port city of Tartus, Syria. Iran seized a boat and arrested 12 Filipinos on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 08 September 2019

Iran seizes ship for alleged fuel smuggling in Gulf, holds 12 Filipino crew

  • The vessel was carrying nearly 284,000 liters of diesel
  • Iran frequently seizes boats it says are being used for smuggling oil in the Gulf

TEHRAN: Iran seized a boat and arrested 12 Filipinos as it busted a “fuel-smuggling ring” in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

“A foreign tugboat was confiscated as well as 283,900 liters (75,000 gallons) of petrol worth 233.71 billion rials ($20.2 million),” ISNA said, citing the coast guard chief in the southern province of Hormozgan.

“Twelve Philippine nationals were arrested and the relevant judiciary officials are currently taking the required legal measures,” Major Hossein Dehaki was quoted as saying.

Dehaki said the group was suspected of operating a fuel-smuggling ring and the confiscated shipment had been intercepted close to Sirik county in the Strait of Hormuz.

The seizure comes amid tensions in the Gulf after the United States unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal putting curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions.

The escalation has seen ships mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in the Strait of Hormuz — a chokepoint for a third of world’s seaborne oil.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained a “foreign tanker” in Gulf waters on July 14 for allegedly smuggling contraband fuel.

“With a capacity of two million liters and 12 foreign crew on board, the vessel was en route to deliver contraband fuel received from Iranian boats to foreign ships,” the Guards said at the time.

Maritime tracking service TankerTrackers reported the Panamanian-flagged MT Riah, used in the strait for fueling other vessels, had crossed into Iranian waters, and at that point its automatic identification system stopped sending signals.

In the most high-profile seizure, the Guards impounded the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 for breaking “international maritime rules.”

Iran also seized another ship on July 31 with seven foreign crew onboard over fuel smuggling, but it has not revealed the vessel’s identity or the nationality of its crew.

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

Updated 15 September 2019

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

ALGIERS: Algeria — whose president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests — is to hold a presidential election on December 12, his interim successor announced Sunday.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address.

The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as the strongman in Algeria since the fall of Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of this year, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.