Bahrain hosts military conference amid Iran tensions

Bahrain hosted a conference on Gulf maritime security on Wednesday (July 31st), after multiple attacks on shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz sent tensions soaring between Iran and the US.

The tiny Gulf monarchy, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, said the meeting was held "to discuss the current regional situation and to strengthen co-operation".

In a statement, it slammed "the repeated attacks and unacceptable practices of Iran and the terrorist groups linked to it".

The US has joined Gulf allies in accusing Iran of being behind several mysterious attacks on tankers in recent months, which Iran denies.

Tensions escalated on July 19th when Iran impounded a British-flagged tanker with its 23 crew aboard as it passed through the Strait -- the world's busiest oil shipping lane.

Iranian authorities said the ship had collided with a fishing vessel then failed to respond to distress calls, as well as turning off its transponder.

Manama did not specify who attended Wednesday's conference, but the Guardian reported a day earlier that the UK had called for a meeting in Bahrain with other European countries and the US.

Bahrain said earlier this month that it and the US would co-host a conference on "maritime and air navigation security", set for October.

Britain last week ordered its navy to escort UK-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz in response to Iranian soldiers seizing its tanker in the flashpoint entrance to the Gulf.

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