India called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday to probe the fatal shooting of an Indian fisherman by a US Navy ship in waters off Dubai, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“India’s ambassador in Abu Dhabi has requested UAE authorities to probe the circumstances of the tragic incident,” ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
He added that India’s embassy in Washington was “in touch with US agencies regarding the incident in the Gulf and assured of a full investigation.”
One Indian fisherman was killed and three others were wounded on Monday when a US Navy ship opened fire on their vessel near the port of Jebel Ali in the tense waters of the southern Gulf.
US defense officials said the motorboat had ignored warnings not to approach the refuelling ship USNS Rappahannock, and that sailors on board the US vessel feared it could pose a threat.
“Since 2000, we have been very concerned about small boats,” a defense official in Washington said, referring to the year of a deadly suicide bomb attack against the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.
The US embassy in New Delhi issued a statement conveying “its condolences to the families of the crew” of the boat, but said they had “disregarded non-lethal warnings and rapidly approached the US ship.”
The latest incident has echoes of another shooting that caused a diplomatic spat between Italy and India.
Two Italian marines guarding an oil tanker shot dead two Indian fishermen in February off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala.
They have been charged with murder and are on trial in an Indian court, despite their claims that the fishermen had ignored warnings and approached the tanker in a way that raised suspicions.