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Saudi Arabia Says It Has Detained Three Iranian Revolutionary Guards

Saudi Arabia says that it captured three members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aboard a boat approaching the kingdom's offshore Marjan oil field. Iran, however, said the detained Iranians were simple fishermen.

The three "are now being questioned by Saudi authorities," the Information and Culture Ministry said in a statement on June 19, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

The vessel, seized by the Saudi Navy on June 16, was carrying explosives and intended to conduct a "terrorist act" in Saudi territorial waters, the statement said.

Saudi media earlier said that the navy had fired warning shots when three small boats entered Saudi territorial waters and headed at high speed toward the platforms.

Iran, however, accused Saudi border guards of opening fire on an Iranian fishing boat, killing a fisherman.

On June 19, Majid Aqababai, the director-general of border affairs at the Interior Ministry, was quoted by Iranian media as saying "the people who came face to face with the powers of [Saudi Arabia] were simple fishermen who had fishermen boats."

Iran earlier claimed that the boat had been pushed off course by waves.

Tensions between the two regional rivals have steadily deteriorated. On June 5, Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as a reason.

Days later, twin terror attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State (IS) killed at least 17 people in Tehran. Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Islamist militants, including IS.

Riyadh has denied involvement in the attacks.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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