Crews evacuated as oil tankers targeted near Strait of Hormuz

Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were damaged in suspected attacks on Thursday, leaving one ablaze and the other adrift and forcing sailors to evacuate in the latest mysterious incident involving tankers amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

The US Navy, which rushed in to assist the stricken vessels, and the ship's owners offered no immediate explanation on what weapon caused the damage to the MT Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran, though all believed the ships had been targeted in an attack. The Front Altair burned for hours afterwards, charring half of one of the vessel's sides and sending thick black smoke into the sky.

Last month, the US alleged that Iran used limpet mines to attack four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. Iran denied being involved, but the incidents came as Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen also have launched missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, including on oil infrastructure.

Meanwhile in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that while Tehran doesn't seek nuclear weapons, "America could not do anything" to stop Iran if it did.

The comments came during a one-on-one meeting capping Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's high-stakes visit in Tehran that sought to ease Iran-US tensions, suggested the efforts had failed.

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