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Fisherman killing: India asks UAE to register case, US condoles death

CNN-IBN
Jul 17, 2012 at 03:53pm IST

New Delhi: India on Monday asked the UAE to register a case against the US Navy ship that reportedly killed an Indian fisherman as his boat approached the ship off the Dubai coast on Monday night. Three other Indian nationals were injured in the firing.

India also sought a report from its ambassador in Dubai. The acting Consul General in Dubai had met the injured fishermen. They are said to be in stable condition. Meanwhile, the dead fisherman's body would be sent in for a post-mortem examination soon. The Indian Consulate in Dubai is said to be pursuing efforts for the body's early repatriation.

Earlier in the day, the MEA had issued a statement saying Washington had officially confirmed the incident.

"The US government has officially confirmed that a US Navy vessel fired shots at a fishing vessel near the port of Jebel Ali, Dubai at about 3.00 pm UAE local time on July 16, 2012. According to UAE officials, one Indian fisherman was killed in the firing incident and three other Indians were injured. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life of the Indian fisherman and the injuries sustained by the others. Our thoughts are with their families," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell telephoned Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai to convey her regret for the loss of life and assured that the US Government would conduct full investigation.

"We will stay in regular touch with the US and UAE authorities to ascertain full facts and take appropriate further action in the matter," she said.

The US had also issued a statement condoling the attack. "The embassy of the United States of America would like to convey its condolences to the families of the crew of a small motor vessel, which came under fire from the USNS Rappahannock on July 16, after the vessel disregarded non-lethal warnings and rapidly approached the US ship," read the statement.

The issue could turn into a diplomatic row between India, the UAE and the US.

A UAE official said there were four Indians from Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu and three Emirati nationals aboard the small boat.

Although the US Navy ordered a probe, it justified the shooting saying that lethal force was used only after the small boat disregarded warnings and raced toward the US vessel.

"The US crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach... When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50 calibre machine gun," said the statement issued by the US Fifth Fleet.

The incident comes five months after an Italian Navy ship killed two Indian fishermen off the coast off Kerala.

In Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Karaiyur Fishermen Association President Malairajan said the dead fisherman has been identified as Sekar of Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district.

The injured are Muniraj, Panpuvan and Murugan who also hail from Ramanathapuram, he said adding Munira had been admitted to hospital with bullet injuries.

Malairajan said the fishermen from Ramanathapuram district were working for Dubai fishing companies on daily wage basis.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the deceased's family. She further wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to take the matter up with the US and the UAE and seek a detailed report into the incident.

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