An Iraqi sailor was killed and nine were captured by an Iranian Navy vessel during a skirmish in the Gulf near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, an Iraqi official said Tuesday.

Basra Gov. Mohammed al-Waeli told The Associated Press that the clash happened Saturday after an Iraqi Navy ship spotted a suspicious merchant vessel flying an Iraqi flag.

Al-Waeli claimed the merchant ship radioed Iranian forces for help and an Iranian Navy ship attacked the Iraqi patrol, killing one sailor and detaining nine others, including three officers.

No comment was immediately available from Iranian officials.

It was not immediately clear on which side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, or Arvand River, the incident took place.

The waterway runs along the Iran- Iraq border and has long been a source of tension between Iran and Iraq. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war broke out after former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein claimed the entire waterway.