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GETTING BOLDER: Five Iranian boats fire shots in the Persian Gulf

(CNN)Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf on Thursday in an attempt to potentially stop the ship, a U.S. official told CNN. For the first time, the incident brought another Persian Gulf nation into the recent rising maritime tensions in the region.

It is not yet clear if any of the rounds hit the Alpine Eternity. There were no U.S. citizens or cargo on board. The Pentagon is still gathering information about the incident.

RELATED: Pentagon says Iranian escort ‘absolutely unnecessary’

The incident began when five small fast boats, believed to be manned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy approached the cargo vessel just off the coast of the United Arab Emirates but in international water, the official said.

These Iranian boats are typically manned with smaller caliber weapons such as machine guns.

The Iranian boats fired across the bow, and at that point the cargo vessel turned and escaped by entering into UAE territorial waters, according to initial U.S. military reports of the incident. The UAE sent three of its coast guard boats out to the cargo vessel.

The incident began with the Iranians ordering the ship into Iranian waters. When the ships master refused, the Iranians began to fire in a way to try to disable the ship, not just as warning shots, the U.S. official said.

Several shots hit the cargo ship, but did not disable it. The ship went into UAE waters and the Iranians followed it into those territorial waters, continuing to fire, before breaking off.

The cargo ship’s master did call coalition warships in the vicinity on the radio including U.S. Navy warships to ask for help when the incident began. A P-3 from a country in the region was sent overhead and the Navy began moving, but the incident was over before it could get there.


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