India's Foreign Ministry reported on Friday that Iran had released nine of twelve Indian crew members from a Panama-flagged oil tanker MT Riah detained on 14 July.
Twenty-one Indian nationals still remain detained by Iran, three aboard the MT Riah and 18 on the UK-flagged Stena Impero that was also captured by Tehran last week.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported seizing a foreign oil tanker with illegal cargo in the Persian Gulf on 14 July. Local media published a video showing two boats blocking the path of a larger vessel with the words "Riah" and "PANAMA" clearly seen on it.
Panama's authorities later proceeded to withdraw its flags from the tanker citing "deliberately violated international regulations".
Tensions have been running high in the Gulf region since Tehran captured the UK-flagged cargo ship Stena Impero citing violations of maritime rules. This comes against the backdrop of another incident involving the arrest of an Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar by the UK on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions on 4 July.