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Iran says ships seized, fishermen killed in Gulf incident with UAE

Iranian fishing dhow M/V Sohaila (Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran says it has it seized a United Arab Emirates ship for violating its territorial waters earlier this week and that U.A.E. coastguards killed two Iranian fishermen on the same day.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry made the announcement on August 20 amid rising tensions between the Gulf countries following last week’s announcement that the U.A.E. had agreed to normalize ties with Tehran’s archrival, Israel.

“On Monday, an Emirati ship was seized by Iran’s border guards and its crew were detained due to illegal traffic in our country’s waters,” Iranian state TV quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

“On the same day, U.A.E. guards shot dead two Iranian fishermen and seized a boat,” the ministry said, adding that it had summoned the U.A.E. charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest.

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Emirati officials have not yet commented on the incident.

State news agency WAM reported on August 17 that U.A.E. coastguards had tried to stop fishing boats that had violated the country’s territorial waters.

It did not report any casualties.

Israel and the U.A.E. announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal, which included an Israeli pledge to suspend its controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Iran has condemned the deal, with President Hassan Rohani calling it a “huge mistake.”

The remarks were seen as “threats” by the U.A.E. which on August 16 summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires in Abu Dhabi in protest.

The next day, U.A.E. Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said the agreement to normalize ties with Israel was a “sovereign decision” that is “not directed” at Iran.