Middle East

Iran 'fires warning shots' at ship in the Persian Gulf

In this Jan. 19, 2012 file photo, a plane flies over the mountains in south of the Strait of Hormuz as the trading dhows and ships are docked on the Persian Gulf waters near the town of Khasab, in Oman Image copyright AP
Image caption Millions of barrels of oil pass through the waterway each day

Iranian gunboats have fired warning shots across the bow of a ship in the Persian Gulf, US officials say, the second incident of its kind in recent weeks.

The Singapore-flagged cargo vessel was in international waters when it came under fire, the officials said.

It was able to divert safely to the United Arab Emirates, according to ship's managing firm.

Iran fired warning shots at then seized another ship last month.

Tehran said the Maersk Tigris was intercepted because of a legal dispute between the Danish company chartering it, Maersk, and a private Iranian firm. It was released last week.

The row prompted the US Navy to start accompanying US-flagged commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

It is not clear why in the latest incident the Alpine Eternity was shot at.

More than 20% of the world's oil needs passes through the Persian Gulf each day.

The incident comes as US President Barack Obama tries to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations over an international deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.

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