- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Indian fisherman aboard a boat shot at by the U.S. Navy off Dubai’s coast has told officials that the crew received no warning before being fired upon, India’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said Tuesday.

One Indian was killed in the incident, and three of his countrymen were seriously wounded.

The account differs from that provided by the Navy, which said it resorted to lethal force only after issuing a series of warnings.

The shooting happened Monday afternoon when a small boat rapidly approached the refueling ship USNS Rappahannock about 10 miles off Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, according to the Navy.

The Navy said the boat’s crew disregarded warnings from the U.S. vessel, and only then did gunners fire on it with a .50-caliber machine gun.

The white-hulled boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30 feet long and powered by three outboard motors. It had no obvious military markings.

Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran’s Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Persian Gulf.

Indian consular officials have met with the wounded fishermen. Indian Ambassador M.K. Lokesh told the Associated Press on Tuesday that one of the survivors reported that the men were returning from fishing when they encountered the American ship.

“He says there was no warning” before the shooting occurred, Mr. Lokesh said, though he noted that authorities were still working to determine what happened. “We are waiting for the investigation to be complete.”

Dubai’s police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, said an initial investigation suggests “the boat was in its right course and did not pose any danger,” according to comments published by the Abu Dhabi-based daily the National. He told the government-backed newspaper that the shooting appeared to be a mistake.

Mr. Lokesh said the casualties are all from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Four other men — two Indians and two Emiratis — were unhurt because they were in the boat’s cabin, he said.

The Indian ambassador also said the three injured men were recovering in a Dubai hospital. “They’re out of danger,” he said.

It was not possible to reach the fishermen directly.

U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell has expressed regret for the loss of life, and assured Indian officials that the U.S. government will conduct a full investigation.

India separately has asked the United Arab Emirates to investigate the incident, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Tuesday.

Story Continues →