Monday, July 16, 2012

Official: U.S. ship fires at boat off Dubai; 1 dead


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The U.S. Navy says a security team aboard one of its ships fired on a small boat after it disregarded warnings and raced toward the vessel near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.


Lt. Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, says sailors aboard the USNS Rappahannock issued a series of warnings Monday before resorting to lethal force using a .50-caliber machine gun.


A U.S. consular official and an Emirati rescue official in Dubai told the Associated Press that one person was killed and three were wounded in the shooting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.


Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the white-hulled boat, which sat docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors.


The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30 feet long and powered by three outboard motors. Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.


Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on. Officials moved the boat from the harbor shortly afterward.


An Emirati rescue official at the scene confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.


U.S. military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speed boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to U.S. ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.


In early 2008, then President Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.


Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz— the route for one-fifth of the world's oil — in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf with additional minesweepers and other warships.


Emirati officials could not be reached for comment.

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