The naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have seized another Saudi Arabian boat allegedly trespassing Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
“The boat had five Indian nationals aboard who had intruded into Iranian waters for illegal fishing,” said Ardeshir Yarahmadi, director of public relations for the Directorate General of Fisheries in Bushehr Province.
According to Majid Aqa-Babaei, who heads border affairs at the Iranian Interior Ministry, the boat was seized on July 22. According to Yarahmadi’s account, the boat was impounded a day earlier, on July 21.
About two weeks ago, IRGC forces seized a Saudi Arabian boat along with its Indian crew in the same vicinity, west of Iran’s Farsi Island.
“While the case of the detainees is under legal investigation, we are going to retaliate and treat the Indian crew the same as the Saudis are treating our illegally captured fishermen,” Aqa-Babaei said.
The first Saudi boat was seized on July 6; almost 20 days after Saudi coastguard impounded two Iranian boats, detaining all onboard.
“The incident happened after three Iranian boats fishing in the Persian Gulf strayed from their course due to big sea waves,” he said. “One of the boats escaped while the other two, with three onboard, were seized by Saudi border guards.”
However, Saudi security forces maintain that the three Iranian detainees are members of the IRGC and were captured when their boats approached the Saudi Marjan oil terminal in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has dismissed the statement as false and unfounded.
So far, there has been no news concerning the fate of the detained Iranians in Saudi Arabia or the fate of the Indian crew captured in Iran.
Iranian officials have ordered all fishermen in Bushehr Province to suspend activity. Avoiding any reference to the dispute between Tehran and Riyadh, officials also said the stoppage is temporary and only intended to give time to shrimps and prawns to recover from excessive fishing.
Meanwhile, the daily Al Riyadh, citing Saudi officials, reported on June 25, “Three Iranians were detained three days before terrorist attacks on the Holy Mosque in Mecca.”
Iranian officials, including the head of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, dismissed the report as a “silly and devilish prank.”
Diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia was severed after a mob attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad in January 2016.
The attackers stormed the embassy, ransacked it, and set it on fire.