UK & World News
US Navy Fires On Fishermen 'Without Warning'
Indian fishermen have accused the US Navy of opening fire on their fishing vessel without warning off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Their account disputes a claim by a US official that the fishermen were given clear signals and repeated warnings to stay away from the USNS Rappahannock, a refuelling boat.
The incident has caused a minor diplomatic crisis with New Delhi still waiting for a 'clear explanation' as to what happened.
One fisherman was killed in the attack, which took place near Dubai's Jebel Ali port on Monday - others suffered serious gunshot injuries.
Muthu Muniraj, 28, who is being treated in hospital for multiple wounds to his legs, told the Reuters news agency that he and his colleagues were given no indication they were about to be shot at.
He said: "We had no warning at all from the ship. We were speeding up to try to go around them and then suddenly we got fired at.
"We know warning sounds and signs and there were none; it was very sudden. My friend was killed. He's gone. I don't understand what happened."
A spokesman for the US Navy, Lt. Greg Raelson, refused to go into detail about exactly what happened because an 'internal investigation' is still ongoing.
"Non-lethal measures were taken while attempting to signal the vessel," he said.
"But the fishing boat did not heed the warning. That was when the security team fired rounds from the .50 caliber. Our ships have an inherent right to self-defence against lethal threats."
The incident has highlighted the possibility of escalating tensions in Gulf waters, where the US is boosting its presence to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme.
Tehran denies it is seeking a nuclear bomb but says the presence of foreign forces is a threat to regional stability.
The US has been extremely cautious of attacks on its naval vessels since two al Qaeda suicide bombers rammed the USS Cole in 2000, killing 17 sailors.
In February the US navy claimed Iran was building up its forces in the Gulf and was preparing boats to be used in suicide attacks.