In a major incident that could have wide-ranging ramifications across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the UAE coast. Both vessels suffered "significant damage" in the incident, it said.

The two Saudi ships were among the four vessels reportedly sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman, off the eastern coast of the UAE near the port city of Fujairah.

According to the Arab kingdom’s Saudi Press Agency, one of the ships was on its way to transport oil from the Saudi port of Ras Tanura to the U.S when the incident occurred. Saudi officials haven’t disclosed casualties or whether there was an oil spill from the incident, but said it caused "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels," reported CNN.

Amid escalation of tensions between arch rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, the incident adds to the rising tensions in the region as Fujairah is close to the strategically crucial waterway Strait of Hormuz. An estimated one-third of the the world's oil exports pass through this narrow sea channel, which makes it strategically significant in a world economy that is heavily dependent on oil.

The U.S. Maritime Administration had warned about an attack by "Iran or its proxies" on oil facilities or vessels in the region last week, said CNN.

Also, the Pentagon had moved the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike force, B-52 bombers and other ships to the region last week to bulk up the forces already there, saying they were a "clear and unmistakable" signal to Iran. Some reports have said the move of military assets were in response to credible intelligence that the Iranians were planning some sort of attack on U.S. military assets.

Oil Tankers
In this photo, oil tankers remain docked in front of Isla oil refinery, which is leased by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, on Feb. 22, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images

Iran Cautions Against Conspiracy Hatched By Foreigners

Iran has sought more clarifications on the attack on Saudi tankers.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has asked for more details, reported Al Jazeera, quoting Iran's official IRNA news agency. Mousavi cautioned against any kind of conspiracy hatched by foreigners to disturb the region’s peace and stability, the channel said.

Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran have deteriorated following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal inked with the oil-rich nation. Iran’s economy has faced a squeeze and the population has faced severe shortages of essential items since the U.S. imposed sanctions on export of Iranian oil.

Last week Iran had threatened that it would resume enriching uranium at higher levels within two months if terms for a new deal are not agreed on by then.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday termed the attack on the four commercial vessels as "dangerous escalation (that) speaks of the evil intentions," reported CNN. The two Saudi ships were among the four that were involved.