Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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US navy fires on boat off UAE coast

News - Middle East

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A US navy vessel has fired on an approaching motor boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing one person and injuring three others, reports said.

Lieutenant Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said on Monday that sailors aboard 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 said in an email response to a query.

A US consular official in Dubai confirmed the incident, telling the Associated Press that one person was killed and three others injured.

An Emirati rescue official at the scene confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.

Civilian vessel

Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the boat after it docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors. The boat was removed from the port shortly afterward.
Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the white-hulled boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on, AP reported.

The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 9 meters long and powered by three outboard motors.

Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.

US military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speed boats from the Revolutionary Guard have passed close to US ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.

In early 2008, then President George Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.

Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz - the route for one-fifth of the world's oil - in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The US recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf with additional minesweepers and other warships.

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