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Greek Coast Guard opens fire on ‘suspicious’ Turkish cargo ship.

Turkey says no casualties have been reported in the incident near the Turkish island of Bozcada and calls for an immediate investigation.

Greek coast guard ships fired on a cargo ship traveling in international waters in the Aegean Sea, adding to tensions with Turkey that have escalated in recent weeks.

A statement from the Turkish Coast Guard said there were no casualties in Saturday’s firing, which took place 11 nautical miles (20 km) southwest of the Turkish island of Bozkada.

It added that after “harassing fire” from two Greek ships, two Turkish coast guard ships went to the area and the Greek boats left.

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The Greek Coast Guard has confirmed it fired “warning shots” at a ship “moving suspiciously” in Greek territorial waters near the island of Lesbos.

The cargo ship’s captain refused to allow inspection and was later towed into nearby Turkish waters, Greek coast guard officials said, adding that they had informed maritime authorities in Turkey about the incident.

The area is known for many ships bringing migrants from Turkey to EU countries Greece and Italy. The Greek Coast Guard says it regularly checks ships behaving suspiciously in the Aegean.

The neighboring countries have been at loggerheads for decades and in recent weeks both sides have accused each other of airspace violations. Greek officials have expressed fears of another conflict in Europe following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ankara has accused Athens of “occupying” some Aegean islands and harassing Turkish aircraft with Russian-made S-300 defense systems. Athens denies these claims.

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Greece says it needs to defend its eastern islands, including the tourist resorts of Rhodes and Kos, which are much closer to Turkey than the Greek mainland, against its larger and militarily stronger neighbor.

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This handout photo released by Turkey's Defense Ministry on Aug. 12, 2020 shows the Turkish seismic research vessel 'Oruk Race' (C) as it is scuttled by the Turkish Navy in the Mediterranean Sea near Antalya on Aug. 10, 2020. The ships have taken.  - Greece, on August 11, called on Turkey to return a research vessel at the center of an escalating dispute over maritime rights and called an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers to resolve the crisis, warning that He will defend his sovereignty.  Tensions escalated on August 10 when Ankara launched the research vessel Oruc Reis with Turkish ships from the Greek island of Kastellorizo ​​in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Turkish government protested to Greek authorities, with Ankara demanding an immediate investigation and explanation [File: Turkish Defence Ministry via AFP]

‘breaking the rules’

Video footage from Saturday reportedly shows a Greek coast guard ship alongside an Anatolian cargo ship as about a dozen gunshots are heard. A crew member is speaking in Turkish, saying they are being attacked by the Greek coast guard.

The video, which was released by the Turkish Coast Guard and appears to have been filmed on a mobile phone, shows what appear to be bullet holes in the cargo ship’s bridge window and roof.

Turkey’s statement said that the firing was a violation of international law. Anatolia’s 18 crew members included six Egyptians, four Somalis, five Azerbaijanis and three Turks.

A Turkish prosecutor ordered an investigation. The country has also protested to Greek authorities, with Ankara demanding an immediate investigation and explanation.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the Anatolia was anchored in the Dardanelles Strait off the coast of Turkey on Sunday.

Last week, the Greek government wrote letters to NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, asking them to formally condemn increasingly aggressive rhetoric by Turkish officials and suggesting that tensions escalate into open conflict. can

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dandia, referring to the war in Ukraine, said the behavior of Turkey, which is also a NATO member, “risks a similar situation that is developing in other parts of our continent.” “.

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