2 Americans die while boarding speedboat filled with explosives

Sunday, April 25, 2004

BAGHDAD Iraqi speedboats fliled with explosives blew up as an American boarding team approached them near Basra.

Three speedboats exploded outside the Basra facility, killing two members of U.S.-led forces and forcing the closure of the terminal.

Officials said the main oil terminal which processes most of Iraq's export of 1.9 million barrels of oil per day was not damaged in Saturday's attack. But they said a full damage assessment would require several days.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet said in a statement that an eight-man coalition interception team had approached an insurgency boat when it blew up. The statement said two other small boats exploded 20 minutes later, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The coalition boarding team were killed and wounded as a result of three concurrent waterborne attacks in the Arabian Gulf," the U.S. Fifth Fleet said in a statement.

Earlier, Iran reported that Iraqi insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade toward an Iranian passenger ship in the Arvandkenar waterway. The ship was said to have sustained heavy damage in the attack on April 19.

Arvandkenar governor Hassan Alidoost told the official Irna news agency that the Iranian ship, called Negin, contained more than 100 passengers and had been sailing from Kuwait to the Iranian city of Khorramshahr.

The governor said an Iraqi insurgent fired an RPG from the west bank of Arvandkenar. The ship was then halted, the passengers were robbed and held for ransom. He did not say whether the passengers were eventually released.

Iranian officials said the Iraqi attacks have threatened shipping and could jeopardize security in the entire region. Officials said Iran has deployed guards along the border to stop Iraqi attacks.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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