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Iraq Dismantles Mine on Tanker in Persian Gulf

FILE - An aerial photo shows oil tankers loading crude oil at Iraq's al-Basra offshore terminal in Basra, Iraq, Dec. 27, 2020.

Iraq's military on Saturday said explosives experts with its naval forces had successfully dismantled a mine that was discovered stuck to an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The statement said Iraqi authorities had opened an investigation into the incident. No group has claimed responsibility for placing the mine.

The announcement came a day after Iraq confirmed reports by private security firms that a mine had been discovered attached to the side of a tanker rented from Iraq's Oil Marketing Company, known as SOMO, as it was refueling another vessel. It said that Iraqi teams were working to dismantle the mine.

Iraq has not provided further details, but the two private security firms said the discovery was likely a limpet mine on the MT Pola, a Liberian-flagged tanker.

A limpet mine is a type of naval mine that attaches to the side of a ship, usually by a diver in the special forces. It can significantly damage a vessel.

The discovery came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the final days of President Donald Trump's administration.

Already, America has conducted B-52 bomber flyovers and sent a nuclear submarine into the Persian Gulf over what Trump officials describe as the possibility of an Iranian attack on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general and a top Iraqi militia leader.

Iraq is marking the anniversary with a series of events this week, including a ceremony at Baghdad's airport Saturday night, where the drone strike that killed the two men occurred a year ago.