The owner of a Turkish commercial ship sunk in the Persian Gulf claims Iraq deliberately attacked the vessel although it was miles from the declared Gulf war zone, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has asked Iran, Iraq and the owners of the ship, Mar Transporter, for detailed reports on Saturday's incident. Turkey claims the vessel was sunk by Iraqi-fired rockets, killing three of the 32 crew members.
Akin Falay, the ship's owner, told the Turkish daily Gunes that the bulk transporter was in the Persian Gulf when attacked. He did not give its exact position.
'There was equivalent to one day's distance between the ship and the declared war zone,' Falay said. 'The ship was attacked on purpose.'
Because of the 2-year war between Iran and Iraq, Iraqi President Saddan Hussein has declared an 'exclusion zone' around Kharg Island, Iran's main oil terminal on the Persian Gulf, saying any ships loading there will be attacked.
In a raid Tuesday on Kharg Island, Iraqi warplanes scored 'direct and effective hits' at the oil installations and other 'vital' targets, the Iraqi news agency reported.
'Iraq will continue in this just and strong method until Iran stops its aggression and respects the sovereignty and integrity of Iraqi territories,' INA quoted a military spokesman as saying.
Tehran Radio, quoting an army statement, did not mention Kharg Island but said Iraqi planes were driven off by Iranian anti-aircraft fire while trying to attack the southwestern Iranian area of Meimak.
The 29 survivors of the Mar Transporter attack were expected to return to Turkey from Iran Wednesday.
Iran's embassy in Ankara Wednesday condemned the Iraqi rocket attack on the Turkish commercial ship.
'The savage attack on the Turkish cargo ship by the Iraqi regime has once again proved Iraq's disrespect for neighboring countries and its unwillingness to have peace in the region,' said embassy spokesman Saeed Sahavand. 'Iran strongly condemns this attack.'