Saudi coast guards
Saudi coast guards Image Credit: Asharq Alawsat

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabian border guards have intercepted three Iranian vessels that were spotted entering Saudi territorial waters in the Arabian Gulf, Saudi media reported.

“The ships eventually retreated after the border guards fired warning shots,” said Saudi news agency SPA.

“The incident took place on Thursday, a Border Guard spokesperson told SPA.

“Three Iranian boats were seen entering Saudi territorial waters and failed to adhere to warnings from border guards, the agency cited the spokesperson as saying. Border guards fired warning shots, which forced the vessels to retreat, the spokesperson said, adding that no violations would be tolerated in the country's territorial waters, as reported by the agency.

The Iranian state-run Mehr news agency cited a prominent fisheries official who said the three boats involved were fishing vessels that were pushed off course by waves. The official added that no-one on board suffered injuries after the Saudi border guards opened fire, the agency reported.

Saudi Arabia and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 2016 after the Saudi authorities executed a prominent Shia cleric. The execution prompted a wave of protests in Tehran that led to the Saudi Embassy being overrun and ransacked.