An Iraqi intelligence officer says 40 workers for the energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. have been evacuated from an oil-drilling site in southern Iraq after they came under rocket fire.
The officer tells The Associated Press that security reinforcements have been deployed to the site after a rocket hit before dawn Wednesday near the location of the Iraqi workers, wounding three. Iraqi officials said a Katyusha rocket hit the site in southern Basra province, striking a camp housing workers for Exxon Mobil and other foreign companies.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief the press.
The official said that immediately after the attack, 16 Exxon Mobil workers were evacuated. Another 24 workers were later evacuated.
German foreign minister weighs in on U.S.-Iran tension
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the risk of war in the Persian Gulf region is not ruled out amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States.
Mass spoke on Wednesday with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris. Mass says "the situation is serious" and "everything must be done" to avoid further escalation of the tensions in the region.
He and Le Drian said they have talks with all parties involved, including Iran and the U.S. Le Drian said France has concerns about Iran authorities' actions and comments.
Le Drian also said "there is little time" to launch diplomatic initiatives that would ease tensions.
The two did not comment on who they think was behind the recent attacks on oil tankers.
Iran denies involvement in attack on Kokuka Courageous
Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami dismissed allegations about his country's involvement in last week's attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, describing them as an unfair accusation meant to tarnish Iran's image.
The semi-official Fars news agency on Wednesday quoted the minister as saying that "the accusation against Iran is totally a lie and I dismiss it firmly."
Hatami extolled Iranian military, saying it has "played a significant role in the establishment of security in the region and in international waterways."
He responded to questions about footage released by the U.S. purporting to show Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the stricken tankers, saying "the date and the location shown in the footage have not been authenticated."
The minister also added that Iranian vessels carried out a rescue operation when they arrived at the location of the tankers. He says the Americans “can show any footage ... but it cannot be used as evidence.”