US Navy says drone strike hit oil tanker off Oman, killing 2

Dubai: US Navy explosive experts believe a drone strike targeted an oil tanker that came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, killing two on board, the American military has said.

The strike Thursday night on the oil tanker Mercer Street marks the first-known fatal attack after years of assaults on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions with Iran over its tattered nuclear deal. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Israeli officials alleged Tehran launched the drone strike.

While Iran did not directly acknowledge the attack, the strike comes, as Tehran now appears poised to take an even tougher approach with the West as the country prepares to inaugurate a hardline prot g of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as president.

The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher were escorting the Mercer Street as it headed to a safe port, the US Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet said in a statement early Saturday.

US Navy explosives experts are aboard to ensure there is no additional danger to the crew, and are prepared to support an investigation into the attack, the 5th Fleet said. Initial indications clearly point to a (drone)-style attack." The 5th Fleet statement did not explain how it determined a drone caused the damage, although it described its explosive experts finding clear visual evidence that an attack had occurred aboard the Mercer Street. The U.S. military's Central Command did not immediately respond to questions on the evidence.

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