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Iran, Iraq Hit Tankers; 2 More Mines Found

October 03, 1987|From Times Wire Services

MANAMA, Bahrain — Iranian speedboats firing rocket-propelled grenades set an Indian oil tanker ablaze in the southern Persian Gulf on Friday, while in the northern part of the gulf, Iraqi warplanes attacked a Cypriot oil tanker en route to Iran's main oil-loading terminal on Kharg Island, shipping sources here said.

The speedboat attack by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the Spic Emerald was the fourth in a 36-hour span. Hours later, Iraqi jets opened fire on the tanker Felicity--just one day after an Iraqi missile hit the Australian-flagged shrimp boat Shenton Bluff, killing its captain. No casualties were reported in Friday's attacks.

Meantime, France said that its minesweepers found two mines, both believed planted by Iran, off the United Arab Emirates port of Khawr Fakkan.

The announcement came just as the 10th U.S. convoy resumed its trip southward through the Persian Gulf. The convoy, in which the Navy frigate Hawes is providing escort for the Kuwaiti tanker Gas Prince, was anchored in the central gulf for a time, the Defense Deparment said, without explanation.

Iranian Warning

In another development, Iran's Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Friday that another confrontation with the United States is likely in the gulf and that taking on the Americans "is more sweet for us" than fighting Iraq. His comments were broadcast on Tehran radio, monitored in Nicosia.

Also on Friday, the Turkish government said that Iran and Iraq were breaking off diplomatic ties. Despite being at war since Sept. 22, 1980, the two countries had maintained relations.

At the United Nations, Bahrain Friday appealed to Iran to implement the Security Council's resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and said the council should impose sanctions for non-compliance.

At the same time, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tarik Aziz, in a U.N. news conference, rejected a Soviet proposal for a cease-fire to be accompanied by a simultaneous inquiry to assess responsibility. Instead he endorsed Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar's timetable for implementing the resolution, which begins with a truce, enforced by U.N. troops or observers, followed by an exchange of prisoners and then an inquiry.

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