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Indian fisherman killing: After dithering for a day,US in damage control mode

Indian fishermen have virtually accused US Navy of lying.

Written by Agencies | Washington/dubai |
July 18, 2012 12:08:58 pm

The US has said it will share with India transparently the results of its probe into the naval ship shooting incident that killed an Indian fisherman in UAE waters,even as the survivors disputed the Pentagon’s claim that they were forewarned.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little had insisted that the naval ship had issued several warnings to the fishing boat in the Persian Gulf before it fired shots that killed an Indian fisherman and injured three others.

State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell,meanwhile,said the Department of Defense was conducting an investigation into the incident that has earlier been described as regrettable.

“… And we,of course,will work with our Indian counterparts and be as transparent as possible to provide them the results of our investigation once it’s finished,” Ventrell said in response to a question.

He said the Pentagon which is probing the matter will be in touch with the Indian officials.

The incident happened on Monday when a small fishing boat carrying six people – four Indians and two Emiratis – was fired upon by a security team onboard the US Navy vessel.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna termed the killing as “unfortunate” and said his ministry was in touch with its Ambassador in UAE,M K Lokesh,who has raised the issue with the UAE government.

Lokesh,on his part,disputed American claims and said the survivors’ account differs from that provided by the US Navy.

“According to the survivors,there were no warnings given to them,” Lokesh said in Dubai.

“There are many versions of the incident. We have to wait for the details to emerge,” the ambassador said. Little had said that the USNS Rappahannock had escalated warning measures in response to a “potential threat” posed by the vessel.

“Based on what we know now,a series of warning measures were issued to the oncoming vessel. Those warnings were not heeded,and the vessel was fired upon,” Little told reporters.

The fisherman who died was identified as Sekar of Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district. The injured – Muthu Muniraj (28),Muthu Kannan (35) and Pandu Sanadhan (26) – too hailed from Tamil Nadu.

“We certainly regret the loss of life in this incident. There were in fact warning measures that were taken,based on what we know now. This is under investigation and we’ll know the full facts of this incident once that investigation is complete,” Little said.

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