An Indian fisherman was killed and three others were injured when a U.S. Navy ship fired at their boat off Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reports quoting UAE officials said on Monday.
"The firing has led to the death of one Indian national and serious injury of three Indian nationals," the official WAM news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying. He said an investigation had already been launched into the incident.
Lt. Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said, sailors on board the USNS Rappahannock opened fire on the boat after it ignored warnings. "US ships have an inherent right to self defense against potential threats... The safety of our vessels and our personnel is of the utmost priority," he told Al Jazeera in an email response to a query.
The shooting took place at around 2:00 p.m. local time (10:00GMT) on Monday about 16 kilometers from the coast. Rappahannock with a crew of 81 civilians and three military officers on board was heading for the UAE port of Jebel Ali when the small motor boat came within eight kilometer of it, the U.S. Navy said.
Navy officials told the Qatar-based news channel that the crew first tried to hail the vessel via radio and on loudspeaker, as well as by flashing lights and firing warning shots. They then fired at the boat with a 50 caliber weapon.
policemen and other UAE officials crowded around the boat after it docked following the incident at a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors. The boat was removed from the port shortly afterwards.
Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf. Reeling under several rounds of Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program, Iran had threatened in the past to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping channel in the Gulf through which 20 percent of the world's oil exports pass.
by RTT Staff Writer
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