MANAMA, BAHRAIN, JUNE 27 -- One or more Iranian gunboats attacked two Scandinavian-owned tankers in the Persian Gulf today, setting both on fire and critically injuring a crewman, gulf-based maritime executives reported.

Marine salvage executives identified the ships as the Norwegian-owned Mia Margrethe and the Swedish-owned Stena Concordia. The executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said earlier that a Norwegian seaman, believed to be the Mia Margrethe's chief engineer, died several hours after he was wounded in the attack.

But representatives in Saudi Arabia of a shipping company said the unidentified sailor was still alive but in critical condition.

Executives said two seamen aboard the Stena Concordia were slightly wounded. Their nationalities were not known.

The Mia Margrethe, which flies a Norwegian flag, was set ablaze and apparently badly damaged, the executives said. A small fire that broke out aboard the Liberian-flagged Stena Concordia was put out by the crew.

The Iranian attacks were in apparent retaliation for a series of Iraqi attacks on tankers in the Iranian side of the northern gulf during the past week. They occurred about 60 miles east of the Saudi Arabian mainland and about 120 miles south of Kuwait's Ahmadi loading terminal. It was not clear whether there were one or two Iranian gunboats involved, the executives said.