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Oil prices soar as US kills top Iranian general, fans war fears

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Oil prices soared more than four percent Friday following news that the US had killed a top Iranian general, fanning fresh fears of a conflict in the crude-rich region, with Tehran warning of retaliation.

Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed ‘severe revenge’ for the US strike that killed one of the country’s top generals, fanning fears of a conflict in the crude-rich Middle East and sending oil prices surging

The head of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, was hit in an attack on Baghdad’s international airport early Friday, according to Hashed al-Shaabi, a powerful Iraqi paramilitary force linked to Tehran.

Later, Donald Trump tweeted a picture of the American flag, and the Pentagon said he had ordered Soleimani’s killing.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned of “severe revenge” for “the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood”, while the country’s foreign minister called the move a “dangerous escalation”.

Brent surged 4.4 percent to $69.16 and WTI jumped 4.3 percent to $63.84 as investors grow increasingly worried about the effects of a possible flare-up in the tinderbox Middle East on supplies of the commodity. Both oil contracts later pared the gains but remained well up.

“This is more than just bloodying Iran’s nose,” said AxiTrader’s Stephen Innes. “This is an aggressive show of force and an outright provocation that could trigger another Middle East war.”

The killing of Soleimani is a dramatic escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran and comes after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy in Iraq following deadly American air strikes on the hardline Hashed faction.

The attack on the embassy highlighted new strains in the US-Iraqi relationship, which officials from both countries have described to AFP as the “coldest” in years.

Oil prices saw a record surge in September after attacks on two Saudi Arabian facilities briefly slashed output in the world’s top exporter by half, with Trump blaming Iran for the attack and previous other blasts on tankers in the Gulf last year.

AFP

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