Kochi: Two fishermen, one each from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in a fishing boat were on Wednesday shot dead by security officials of an Italian cargo vessel in the deep sea after being mistaken for pirates, an official said.
Sources in Indian Navy said that the ship was in international waters. Sources also said that the fishermen shot by Italian Naval personnel on-board the tanker.
Normally shooting is only for effect, to scare and not to kill, added sources.
The Italian vessel was identified as Enrica Lexie and has been directed to come to Kochi for a probe.
The vessel's authorities have apoloigised for the incident, saying that they mistook the fishermen for pirates.
The incident is believed to have occurred about 14 nautical miles off the Alappuzha coast.
After being escorted by an Indian naval ship, the Italian vessel has now reached the Kochi port and police will be probing the incident.
A defence spokesperson said, "The Indian Coast Guard district headquarters number four has launched CGS Samar, CGS Lakshmibhai and an aircraft to pursue the Italian ship. The aircraft has since located the ship and has asked the vessel to come to anchorage off Kochi for detailed investigation."
"INS Kabra from the Southern Naval Command has also been put to sea for the operation," he said.
Fishermen in Kollam said the fishing boat, which left Kollam in Kerala a week back, was on its way back when the incident occurred.
With Additional Inputs from PTI