The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia said it seized an Iranian boat carrying weapons bound for Yemen in an incident set to raise tensions between the Middle East’s staunchest political rivals.
The boat was seized in the Arabian Sea, Saudi Arabia’s state-run television reported. Its cargo included anti-tank weapons as well as missile launchers, it said, citing a coalition statement.
The coalition is fighting a war against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels in a bid to restore the rule of President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi. Gulf Arab monarchies accuse Iran of backing the Houthis, while western diplomats have expressed skepticism about the level of Iranian involvement.
The Iranian-registered fishing boat was seized about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the southeast coast of Salalah, Oman, carrying anti-tank shells, firing-guidance systems and shell-batter kits, the coalition said. Fourteen Iranians were arrested, it said.
The seizure comes at a time of rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia after more than 700 people, including dozens of Iranians, were killed in a stampede near the holy city of Mecca last week during the Hajj pilgrimage.
Iranian officials have publicly criticized Saudi Arabia over the deaths, charges Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Tuesday dismissed as “ludicrous.”