An Iranian vessel removed an unexploded mine attached to a Japanese oil tanker severely damaged after a Gulf of Oman explosion on early Thursday, US officials told Fox News.
The US military had a video of the incident and planned to publish it, the official added. The images were from the USS Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, who rescued 21 sailors from the affected tanker.
At least one more mine on the tanker's hull detonated and caused the explosion. This happened near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil deliveries in the region.
A US official told Fox News that an Iranian gunboat approached later on the day of Kokuka Courageous and removed the unexploded triangular shaped limpet mine. The same type of mine damaged four other tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month.
The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss confidential information, said the suspected Iranian ship had not carried flags and crew members wore no uniforms. However, the ship class the US military called the Fast Inhore Attack Craft (FIAC) was the same type of ship Iran used to harass US warships in the Persian Gulf in recent years.
Other Iranian small boats have remained near the affected oil tanker since the attack on early Thursday, the official added.
IRAN RESPONSIBLE FOR & # 39; HARD ATTACK & # 39; ON OIL TANKER, POMPEO SAYS
was delivered after the tanker's captain had discovered the unexploded mine, not because of the fire aboard the ship.
Another tanker, a Norwegian ship called Front Altair, was also attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The crew was detained, according to US officials in Iran.
"That's what we're out here for," said Commander Dr. M. Kathryn Devin, the commanding officer of the USS Bainbridge, said about the rescues. "Our mission is to ensure maritime safety and to respond to the call for help if we can."
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Thursday afternoon at the State Department of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks on both oil tankers.
The Iranian UN mission "categorically rejects" US allegations of being responsible for the attacks and condemns them "in the strongest terms".
Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.