Saudi Arabia Says Iranian Guards in Custody After Boat Seized

Saudi Arabia said its navy captured three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard aboard a small boat laden with explosives as it headed toward an oil platform in the Gulf.

The boat was intercepted in Saudi waters on Friday, the kingdom’s Center for International Communications said in a statement. Two other vessels escaped and the Guards are being questioned by authorities, it said. “It is clear this was intended to be a terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters designed to cause severe damage to people and property,” the statement cited an unnamed Saudi official as saying Monday. Their destination was the Marjan oil field, it said.

Majid Aghababaei, in charge of border affairs at Iran’s interior ministry, rejected the Saudi claims of military involvement, telling reporters that the vessels were fishing boats and one fisherman died in the incident.

“The individuals who came face to face with the Saudi forces are simple fishermen and their boat is a fishing boat,” Aghababaei was quoted by Iran’s Young Journalists Club as saying.

Shiite Iran and Saudi Arabia, the region’s main Sunni power, are on opposing sides of some of the region’s major crises. Their rivalry spread to the heart of the Gulf this month as the Saudis led a drive to isolate Qatar, blaming their neighbor for ties with Iran and militant groups. After Islamic State suicide bombers attacked key landmarks in Tehran -- including parliament -- on June 7, the Guards issued a statement with barely veiled references to a Saudi role in the carnage.

Iran fired six surface-to-surface missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria on Sunday, a rare strike that indicates its willingness to escalate its use of military power in the region.

— With assistance by Vivian Nereim

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