Iran seizes India-bound ‘Israeli-linked’ ship near Strait of Hormuz

News Network
April 13, 2024

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Tehran, Apr 13: Iranian armed forces have seized a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions across the region after a deadly Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

The incident comes amid Israel bracing for Iranian retaliation after the regime's April 1 strike on a building in the Iranian embassy compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven IRGC military advisors, including two generals.

The ship was commandeered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite force that lost seven members in the Syria strike, Iranian state media reported on Saturday.

“The ship has now been guided towards the territorial waters of our country,” state-run IRNA reported.

The vessel was identified as the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries, which reportedly departed from a port in the United Arab Emirates en route to India. 

Footage from the deck of the vessel obtained by The Associated Press news agency on Saturday showed soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter.

The helicopter appeared to be a Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17, which is operated by the naval forces of the IRGC.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that MSC is responsible for all vessel activities.

“Title to the vessel is held by Gortal Shipping Inc as financier and she has been leased to MSC on a long-term basis. Gortal Shipping Inc is affiliated with Zodiac Maritime,” it said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) had said a vessel was seized by “regional authorities” 50 nautical miles (92km) northeast of the UAE’s Fujairah in a waterway vital to world trade.

Another Israeli-linked container ship was attacked and damaged by a drone in the Indian Ocean in late November, which the United States blamed on Iran.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X that the move by Iran was “a pirate operation in violation of international law”.

He called on the European Union and “the free world to immediately declare” the IRGC a “terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now”.

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

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News Network
May 22,2024

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Udupi: A teenage boy, identified as Nithin, ended his life by suicide after reportedly being humiliated by the head teacher of his school. The incident occurred two days ago, and the police have yet to take action against the accused.

Nithin, 16, a resident of Shiroor in Byndoor, had gone to his government high school on May 18 to collect his Transfer Certificate (TC) after completing his SSLC. However, not only was his request for the TC denied, but he was also allegedly insulted by the head teacher.

On May 20, Nithin informed his father, Nagaraj, about his intention to visit the school to collect the TC. Tragically, between 12 noon and 12:30 pm, when no one was at home, Nithin hanged himself. In his death note, he accused the head teacher of insulting him and refusing to issue the TC, which led to his decision to end his life.

A case has been registered by the Byndoor police under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC. Nithin's family members staged a protest in front of the Byndoor police station on Tuesday, demanding the arrest of those responsible for his suicide.

DySP of Kundapura Belliappa, probationary IPS officer Dr. Harsha Priyamvada, and Byndoor CI Savitra Tez held discussions with the public, assuring them that investigations are underway and that the case is being taken seriously. They promised that a suitable report would be published within a week following further investigation and interrogation. They also assured that stringent action would be taken against the culprits if sufficient evidence is found.

Village elders, social leaders, and locals provided support to Nithin's grieving family. His mortal remains were later taken home for the final rites.

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News Network
May 19,2024

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A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing” on May 19, Iranian state media reported, without immediately elaborating.

Mr. Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV said the incident happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. One local government official used the word “crash” to describe the incident, but he acknowledged to an Iranian newspaper that he had yet to reach the site himself.

Neither IRNA nor state TV offered any information on Mr. Raisi’s condition.

Rescuers were attempting to reach the site, state TV said, but had been hampered by poor weather conditions. There had been heavy rain and fog reported with some wind. IRNA called the area a “forest.”

Mr. Raisi had been in Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one that the two nations built on the Aras River. The visit came despite chilly relations between the two nations, including over a gun attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its main enemy in the region.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mr. Raisi, 63, is a revolutionary who formerly led the country’s judiciary. He is viewed as a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after his death or resignation from the role.

Mr. Raisi won Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Raisi is sanctioned by the U.S. in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

Under Mr. Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its war on Ukraine, as well as launched a massive drone-and-missile attack on Israel amid its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It also has continued arming proxy groups in the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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News Network
May 18,2024

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In a humanitarian move, Spain has refused entry to a ship carrying arms from India’s Chennai to Israel to dock at one of its ports, its Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has said.

The Denmark-flagged cargo ship Marianne Danica sailed from Chennai on April 8 when people in Gaza were observing Ramadan fasting, and was headed to the port of Haifa in Israel, according to maritime tracking portals and Spanish media.

Spain has been extremely critical of the rising civilian casualties due to the Israeli offensive in Gaza and, along with Belgium, has suspended arms exports licenses to Tel Aviv. 

Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Randhir Jaiswal, at the weekly press conference, only said that they have seen the report of the ship and will revert with more information.

Meanwhile, a source said, “Investigation will reveal if the items on board were cleared for export and if the end user is the same as reported by The Guardian because there are items that are not banned for exports.”

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday on the issue, Mr. Albares had said, “This is the first time we have done this because it is the first time we have detected a ship carrying a shipment of arms to Israel that wants to call at a Spanish port.”

“This will be a consistent policy with any ship carrying arms to Israel that wants to call at Spanish ports. The Foreign Ministry will systematically reject such stopovers for one obvious reason: the Middle East does not need more weapons, it needs more peace,” he stated.

The ship was carrying 27 tonnes of explosives according to local reports. It was to make a port call at Cartegena in Spain.
In February, Mr. Albares said that they had suspended arms export licences to Israel since October 7, which he said made them “realise” the importance of a “fair and lasting solution” to the Palestinian cause.

The incident comes amid an ongoing row between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s party and his coalition partners over another ship, Borkum, that was due to dock at Cartegena port on Friday over allegations that it was carrying arms meant for Israel. However, the Spanish government has said that the arms it is ferrying are meant for the Czech Republic.

Belgium had suspended two arms export licences to Israel.

“We welcome the decision of the Spanish government to deny the transit authorisation of the vessel Marianne Danica, in accordance with Tratado (treaty) on Arms Trade and Spanish law,” Amnesty International Spain said on social media platform ‘X’.

The timing also coincides with the Israeli ground offensive inside Rafah. According to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) at least 6,30,000 Palestinians have been forced out of Rafah since the launch of the incursion on May 7.

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