Mon, Jun 19, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Iran says Saudi coast guard shot fisherman dead

AFP, TEHRAN

An Iranian fisherman was shot and killed on Saturday by the Saudi coast guard, which accused him of entering Saudi waters, Iran’s interior ministry said, fuelling tensions between the regional rivals.

“Two fishing boats were in the Persian Gulf and strayed due to high waves. The Saudi coast guard say the boats entered Saudi waters and killed one of the fishermen,” Iranian Ministry of the Interior official Majid Aghababaie said in a statement published by Iranian media.

He said it was not clear if the fishing boats had strayed into Saudi waters and that Iranian authorities were trying to determine the facts.

“Even if the boats had entered Saudi waters, the coast guard were not authorized to open fire,” Aghababaie added.

Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Bahram Ghassemi issued a similar statement.

Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency later quoted Aghababaie as saying one of the boats was missing.

“We have no news concerning one of the boats,” he said.

The incident comes amid increased tensions between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and its arch rival Iran.

The tensions flared after twin attacks on June 7 on parliament and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran in which 17 people were killed.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

However, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in the attacks.

Iranian Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi has also put the blame on Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia is sponsoring terrorist groups in Iran,” he said on Thursday.

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif also pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia during a visit to Norway last week.

“We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran in Baluchistan,” Zarif said.

The incident also comes as the Gulf faces one of its worst diplomatic crises in years.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and several of its allies cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremist groups, including some backed by Iran.

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