An official bulletin from the French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a team of French and U.S. investigators had found definitive evidence that the explosion and fire that engulfed the supertanker Limburg in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday was the result of an attack by a small boat laden with explosives.
The investigators determined from fiberglass fragments, and explosive residues that a small craft rammed the tanker’s starboard side immediately before the explosion occurred, confirming reports from the ship’s crew that they had seen a small boat approaching at high speed.
French officials issued a general warning to French nationals in the Middle East and Asia to take extra precautions. U.S. officials indicated that the attack was similar to the one on the U.S. Destroyer Cole in 2000 that killed 17 servicemen. That attack was blamed on the terrorist al-Qaeda network.
According to a report from the BBC’s Middle East affairs analyst, Roger Hardy, “Western experts are now debating whether the explosion – and the subsequent killing of a US marine in Kuwait – is a sign of the resurgence of al-Qaeda.”
Yemeni authorities, who had been reluctant to accept that the Limburg was hit by terrorists, apparently based in the country, have accepted the preliminary findings. They expressed concern, however, that increases in marine insurance rates, some of which have reportedly tripled since the incident, would harm the country’s economy.
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