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Hong Kong oil tanker refuses to visit Basra due to terror threat

The crew of a Hong Kong-registered oil tanker refused to dock in the Iraqi oil terminal of Basra out of fears of terror attacks, the company that owns the ship said Tuesday.

Chief Executive George Chao of Wah Kwong Shipping said he went along with the crew's decision because he was worried about the security situation in Iraq and a recent terror threat against several shipping companies.

He said he was concerned about the safety of his crew, the ship and the oil it was carrying, adding the ship was worth $100 million.

''It's a lot of money,'' he said.

Chao declined to say how much oil the tanker was scheduled to pick up or where it was to have been delivered.

The Venture Spirit has been under a five-year charter to Teekay Shipping, a crude oil shipper, since last June. Chao said it is now being replaced by another ship that will pick up the oil in Basra.

The incident comes after South Korean intelligence officials said on Saturday that Islamic militants posted an online message threatening attacks against ships carrying U.S. military goods in the Middle East.

The warning reportedly cited a South Korean shipping company and eight other shipping firms from the United States, the Netherlands and Hong Kong as its targets.

But Hong Kong police said Saturday there was no specific intelligence that Hong Kong shipping firms or locally registered ships are being targeted by terrorists.

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