Deadly drone attack on tanker escalates Iran-Israel tensions

Maritime tensions are escalating in the Middle East following the deadly attack on a tanker connected to an Israeli billionaire in the Arabian Sea.

Deadly drone attack on tanker escalates Iran-Israel tensions

Maritime tensions are escalating in the Middle East following the deadly attack on a tanker connected to an Israeli billionaire in the Arabian Sea.

Two crewmembers, a Briton and a Romanian, died on Thursday when the Mercer Street tanker was attacked by an armed drone believed to be operated by Iran off the coast of Oman.

The US, Israel and the UK are blaming Iran for the attack, which Tehran denies.

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Speaking yesterday at a cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Iran was denying the attack "in a very cowardly manner" and that Israel has intelligence evidence that it was behind the incident.

"I say absolutely that Iran is the one that carried out the attack against the ship," Mr Bennett said.

"The thuggish behaviour of Iran is dangerous not only to Israel but also to the global interest in freedom of shipping and international trade."

Iran denied involvement in the attack yesterday.

"The illegitimate occupying regime of Israel must stop the false accusations," the country's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said in his weekly news conference, according to semi-official news agency Mehr.

"This is not the first time that the Zionist regime has made such accusations against Iran. This regime has taken violence and insecurity with it wherever it has gone," Mr Khatibzadeh added.

In a statement issued yesterday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the attack and said the UK believes it is "highly likely" that Iran carried it out.

"We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran. UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on 29 July using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)," the statement said.

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pointed the finger of blame at old foe Iran.Iranian troops filmed seizing British-flagged tanker in the Gulf

Reports of drone noises, then explosions

The vessel was travelling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujariah in the United Arab Emirates with no cargo on board, the ship's management firm said.

It is sailing under a Liberian flag, according to the maritime tracking website Marine Traffic.

The ship is Japanese-owned and managed by Zodiac Maritime, an international management company headquartered in London and led by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

Zodiac also confirmed the tanker was under its own power and moving to a safe location with a US naval escort.

US officials have not said which port the vessel will go to.

A security official with knowledge of the preliminary investigation said the crew reported hearing drone noises followed by explosions, and eruptions in the water.

The boat then went radio silent.

The boat's driver and a security detail then remained on the bridge to pilot the vessel, and were hit in the attack, they added.

The dead Briton was a member of the security personnel, the official said.

A US defence official familiar with the details of the incident said on Friday that the tanker was attacked by an armed drone thought to be operated by Iran.

US releases video it claims shows Iran removing unexploded mine from Gulf tanker

Another official said the US responded "to an emergency distress call of an apparent UAV style attack," and that the ship was escorted to port by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and the USS Mitscher destroyer.

The tanker's crew reported that the drone exploded into its superstructure on Thursday, the first US official said.

They also reported an unsuccessful attempted drone attack earlier in the day but said that drone fell into the water.

The US military has long noted Iran has drones that operate by flying into targets and exploding on impact.

An official source at Oman's Maritime Security Center told Oman News Agency on Friday that the incident happened outside Omani waters, the agency said.

Oman sent jets and a Navy ship to the location of the attack, and Omani officials say they were told by the ship and its crew it would continue sailing without the need for assistance, the agency reported.

Oil tankers ambushed in the Gulf of Oman

Deep concerns

This incident comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran and follows a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent years, which the US has blamed on Iran.

Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that the world needs to stand up to Iran after the incident.

"Iran isn't only an Israeli problem but an exporter of terror, destruction and instability which harms the entire world. We must never remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism, which also harms freedom of navigation," Mr Lapid said in a statement on Twitter.

Mr Lapid added that he had told his British counterpart, Mr Raab, that the attack on the ship needed a strong response.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was "deeply concerned" by the incident off the coast of Oman, in a statement on Twitter.

"Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the British and Romanian nationals killed in the incident," the statement said.

"Vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law," it added.

Ambrey, the maritime security company that employed the UK crewman killed in the attack, also said in a statement that it was "currently working closely with our client and the relevant authorities, whilst offering all the support possible to the victim's next of kin.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved at this incredibly sad time."

- Reported with CNN

Source : 9 News More   

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$10k rebates now available for farmers battling mouse plague

A $10,000 rebate is available for farmers to bait for mice as spring approaches, along with a feared resurgence of a rodent plague in New South Wales.

$10k rebates now available for farmers battling mouse plague

A $10,000 rebate is available for farmers to bait for mice as spring approaches, ahead of a feared resurgence of the rodent plague in New South Wales.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the funds were now available for use.

The rebates are meant to cover up to 50 percent of the costs of zinc phosphide baits.

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"We have made $100 million available for zinc phosphide rebates so that farmers are armed and ready if mice numbers begin to increase as we get closer to spring," Mr Barilaro said.

"This is just one part of the NSW Government's $150 million mice support package which includes household and small business rebates and biocontrol research, reinforcing our commitment to support primary producers and regional communities."

Mr Marshall said zinc phosphide was the best tool available for managing the plague.

"I urge farmers to start monitoring mice numbers on their farms right now and start planning how they will manage the impacts as the population increases as we approach harvest," he said.

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NSW Farmers Association vice president Xavier Martin encouraged farmers to apply now.

Claims can be made retrospectively for baits purchased as early as February 1 this year.

"This is an opportunity to prepare for spring when mice populations are predicted to swell," Mr Martin said.

He said the "ongoing" plague would require flexibility in support from the government.

The NSW Government had previously applied to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for permission to use bromadiolone against the mice.

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Mr Marshall said the use of the poison would be like "napalm".

However, in June, the APVMA rejected the application, citing environmental safety concerns.

Experts had raised concerns about the danger the chemical posed to native wildlife, as anything that ate a poisoned mouse stood a high risk of secondary poisoning.

The mouse plague is estimated to have caused more than $1 billion in damage to crops.

Eligible farmers can find out more about how to secure their rebate on the Rural Assistance Authority web page.

Source : 9 News More   

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