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Missile kills 19 Iranian sailors in ‘friendly fire’ incident in Gulf of Oman

Support warship Konarak was too close to a training target, Iran's army says, in second deadly military mistake this year
The damaged Konarak vessel, hit by a friendly fire missile during naval exercises, docked at the Jask port, in southern Hormozgan province on 11 May (AFP)

A missile strike on an Iranian warship killed 19 sailors and wounded 15 others by accident during a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, Iran's army said on Monday. 

The incident took place on Sunday afternoon off the coast of the city of Bandar-e Jask in southern Iran, state media reported. 

According to state TV channel IRIB, a frigate called Jamaran fired at a training target released by a support ship, the Konarak. 

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However, Konarak was too close to the target and was hit.

Equipped with four cruise missiles, Konarak is a Hendijan-class vessel made in the Netherlands and purchased by Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to state media.

Iran holds regular naval exercises in its southern waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. 

"The vessel was hit after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target," the channel said.

The vessel has since been towed ashore “for further technical investigations”, according to the army statement

The 15 wounded were hospitalised in Sistan and Baluchistan, said Mohammad-Mehran Aminifard, head of the province's medical university.

Two of the sailors were in intensive care, he told the semi-official news agency ISNA.

In January, Iranian missiles shot down a passenger jet by mistake, killing all 176 people on board.