July 17, 2012
(Reuters) - Indian fishermen who survived a hail of gunfire from a U.S. navy boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates disputed U.S. claims that their boat drew fire after ignoring warnings to steer clear of the American vessel.
One Indian was killed and three others injured on Monday when the USNS Rappahannock, a refueling ship, fired on the fishing vessel, which the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet said approached at high speed and ignored repeated warnings.
The incident highlighted the potential for a rapid escalation of tensions in Gulf waters, where U.S. forces are expanding their presence as Washington ramps up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
The fishermen, hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the incident near Dubai's Jebel Ali port, said on Tuesday that they received no warning before the U.S. craft opened fire, and that their craft had attempted to avoid any contact with it.
"We had no warning at all from the ship, we were speeding up to try and go around them and then suddenly we got fired at," 28-year-old Muthu Muniraj told Reuters from hospital, his legs punctured by the rounds of the U.S. craft's .50-caliber gun.