Pentagon claims Iranian drone struck chemical tanker near India

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A drone “fired from Iran” struck a chemical tanker operating in the Indian Ocean, a US Defence official has claimed.

“The motor vessel CHEM PLUTO, a Liberia-flagged, Japanese-owned, and Netherlands-operated chemical tanker was struck at approximately 10 a.m. local time (6 a.m. Greenwich Mean time) today in the Indian Ocean, 200 nautical miles from the coast of India, by a one-way attack drone fired from Iran,” the official said in a statement on Saturday.

A one-way attack drone is designed to impact its target rather than return to its origin, according to CNN.

“There were no casualties and a fire on board the tanker has been extinguished,” the defense official said.

“No US Navy vessels were in the vicinity,” the statement said, adding Naval Forces Central Command was communicating with the struck vessel.

The Indian coast guard posted on social media that there are 21 crew members onboard and that “the vessel has started making way towards Mumbai”.

It was the first time the Pentagon has openly accused Iran of directly targeting ships since the start of Israel´s war on Palestinian group Hamas, which is backed by Tehran.

The attack came amid a flurry of new drone and missile attacks by Yemen´s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on the vital Red Sea shipping lane since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, with the group claiming to act in solidarity with Gaza.

Saturday´s Indian Ocean attack took place around 10am local time (0600 GMT) and caused no casualties aboard the vessel, a Pentagon statement said, adding that a fire was extinguished.

The US military “remains in communication with the vessel as it continues toward a destination in India,” it added.

The drone strike occurred 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) off the coast of India, it said, adding that no US Navy vessels were in the vicinity.

The Pentagon statement said the MV Chem Pluto ship flew under a Liberian flag and was operated by a Dutch entity, although the ship is owned by a Japanese company.

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