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Iran seizes Israel-linked vessel with 17 Indian crew; Delhi in touch with Tehran

Efforts on to ensure ‘early release’ | Tel Aviv warns of ‘consequences’ | Amid tensions, Air india & Vistara alter routes

Iran seizes Israel-linked vessel with 17 Indian crew; Delhi in touch with Tehran

A video grab of Iranian commandos rappelling down an Mi-17 on to a stack of containers on vessel’s deck. Reuters

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 13

Hours after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) naval forces seized a cargo ship having part-Israeli ownership, Indian authorities contacted Tehran seeking safe release of 17 Indian nationals, who are part of the vessel’s crew.

The merchant vessel, MSC Aries, which has 25 crew in all, has been taken into Iran’s maritime territory — that is 12 nautical miles from its coast.

Retaliation for consulate airstrike

  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seizes ‘MSC Aries’ container ship, with crew of 25, near Strait of Hormuz
  • Portuguese-flagged ship is linked to London-based Zodiac Maritime, a part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group
  • Iran had vowed to retaliate for ‘Israeli airstrikes’ on its consulate in Syria on April 1, killing its senior commanders

Indian sources said: “We are aware that cargo ship ‘MSC Aries’ has been taken control of by Iran. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals on board. We are in touch with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and Delhi, to ensure security, welfare and early release of Indian nationals.”

The detained ship operates under the flag of Portugal and is connected to the London-based company “Zodiac Maritime”, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. The Iranians detained the vessel on Saturday after its commando forces accompanied by a helicopter conducted an aerial operation. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported its commandos seized Portuguese-flagged vessel, linked to Israel, and took it into its waters.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have escalated with both threatening strikes against each other. A few days ago, Tehran said it could close the crucial shipping route and warned it would retaliate for an alleged Israeli strike on its Syria consulate.

The Ministry of External Affairs had yesterday issued an advisory asking Indian nationals against travelling to Israel or to Iran.

The ship was seized from the Straits of Hormuz.

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