Saudi navy captures members of Iranian elite force on intercepted boat

While the Saudi Press Agency stated that the Navy fired warning shots to ward off the vessels, Iranian media has a different picture of the events. "It was captured with the three men on board; the other two escaped", said the statement from the ministry's Center for International Communications.

The vessel, seized last Friday, was carrying explosives and meant to conduct a "terrorist act" in Saudi territorial waters, it said.

The Saudi authorities are now interrogating the three members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who were arrested. The captured boat was carrying weapons "for subversive purposes", the brief SPA report said.

Interior ministry's director general for border affairs, Majid Aqa-Babaei, denied on Monday the Saudi claims as not true.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Shiite-dominated Iran of interfering in Middle Eastern countries, and has suggested it is linked to instability in the kingdom's east, where minority Shiites live.

"There is no proof that they are military personnel", he said, in remarks carried by the ILNA news agency.

On Saturday, Iran said that Saudi coastguard opened fire on two Iranian fishing boats in Persian Gulf, killing one fisherman.

The latest incident comes at a time of already heightened tensions between the two regional powers.

During his visit to Tehran, Abadi seeks to discuss the expansion of ties between the two neighbors besides the attempts to help Iran and Saudi Arabia reduce the tensions. The two nations regularly accuse one another of destabilizing the region via their support for opposing political and military movements overseas, including warring factions in Syria and Yemen.

Riyadh has long expressed concern about Iran's alleged interference in the region, including through Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group which has played a major role in reclaiming parts of the country seized by the Islamic State group.

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

  • Leroy Wright