The Pentagon has defended the killing of an Indian fisherman by U.S. Navy security, claiming that the small boat operator ignored repeated warning, but Indian fishermen and Dubai police have blamed the U.S. Navy for the incident.
A security team of US Navy ship USNS Rappahannock on Monday fired on a small vessel killing one India fisherman and injuring three others. Arumugham Sekar of Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, was shot dead, while Muthu Muniraj, Panpuvan and Murugan, were injured in the firing off the coast of Dubai.
Indian fishermen, who were on the small vessel, have denied Pentagon's claims and said that no warnings were issued by the US navy before they started firing from a .50-calibre machine gun.
Muniraj said from the hospital on Tuesday said that they did not receive any warning signs from the US craft before they opened fire.
"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. We know warning signs and sounds and there were none; it was very sudden. My friend was killed, he's gone. I don't understand what happened," Muniraj told Reuters.
Dubai's police chief, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim said in a telephonic interview with The National that the fishing vessel was in the right directing and did not receive any warning signs.
"The boat was in its right course and did not pose any danger. The shooting was clearly a mistake," Tamim said.
Even the heads of private security companies, who operate in the same region where the incident took place, said that the US Navy personnel might have overreacted in the situation.
"They should understand the habits and behaviour of each area before using lethal force because they must know the area they are transiting and the likelihood of piracy," Nicholas Davis, the chief executive officer of Maritime Guard Group, told The National.
"It appears that the US navy had sufficient time to launch a fast intercept vessel to stop the fishing boat before it got close. It is an intense situation at sea but 10 nautical miles off Jebel Ali is highly unlikely to pose a potential terrorist or piracy threat to anyone," he added.
The US navy has claimed that the USNS Rappahannock started firing only after the vessel operator ignored repeated warnings and rapidly came close to the ship.
"In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors of US Navy ship used a series of non-lethal, preplanned reactions to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," US navy said in a statement.
"The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun."
Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to the UAE M K Lokesh said that he is waiting for the details of the incident.