UN Secretary General António Guterres has expressed concern over rising tensions in the gulf region, calling on all actors to exercise “maximum restraint”.

UN spokesperson, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, conveyed Guterres’ message while briefing correspondents in New York on Wednesday.

“The Secretary General is following with growing concern recent incidents and hardening rhetoric in the gulf region which threatens to further destabilise an already volatile situation.

“In particular, he condemns the recent attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)  and stresses the need for further investigation to determine the facts and hold accountable the perpetrators.

“He also condemns the drone attacks on oil facilities in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility,” Dujarric said.

Tensions are high in the region following a decision by the U.S. to end exemptions from sanctions for major importers of Iranian oil, according to the BBC.

In April, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if it was prevented from using the waterway, through which about a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes.

On Sunday, four commercial ships were attacked off the UAE in the gulf near Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia said two Saudi oil tankers were affected in the incident, described by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a “sabotage attack”

The U.S. has deployed warships to the region in recent days to counter what it called “clear indications” of threats from Iran to its forces and maritime traffic, the BBC reported.

Iran dismissed that allegation, calling for a full investigation into the attacks.

The drone attack in Saudi Arabia, which occurred on Tuesday, targeted the Aramco East-West pipeline that stretches across the country to the port and oil terminal at Yenbu.

The Ansar Allah fighting group, also known as the Houthis, claimed responsibilities for the attacks, which reportedly caused minor damage but rattled the international community.

Guterres recalled that recalls that attacks targeting civilians and infrastructure violate international humanitarian law.

“The Secretary General calls upon on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amid heightened tension,” the spokesman said.