Three closely-timed suicide attacks on Persian Gulf oil terminals left two U.S. Navy sailors dead and five injured yesterday.
In the first incident, a U.S. Navy warship patrolling the the Gulf intercepted a dhow, or small boat, as it approached the Khor al-Amaya oil terminal located approximately 100 miles from Iraq's main port facility at Umm Qasr. According to Associated Press, a Navy team was dispatched to investigate the suspicious vessel, and, as the party prepared to board, the dhow exploded, flipping the team's boat, resulting in casualties.
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Approximately 20 minutes later, two other boats approached the Basrah terminal, located 12 miles from the first blast. As security services attempted to intercept the boats, the two intruders exploded. There were no coalition injuries.
No facilities or tankers were damaged in the attacks, according to Bloomberg News, but Iraq's main oil terminals were closed following the incidents. The Basrah terminal is Iraq's primary export site for its crude oil, the country's principle source of revenues.
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The use of suicide boats represents a new tactic in the Iraqi theater – one reminiscent of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole off Yemen, which killed 17 American sailors.