Indian fisherman killed in firing from unmarked boat off Gujarat coast

An Indian fisherman was killed when his boat came under fire from an unmarked vessel off the Gujarat coast, the Coast Guard said Friday.

Fisherman Iqbal Abdul Bhatti, 40, succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a bullet on the right collar bone.

Coast Guard officials said the crew on board two Indian fishing boats, Premraj and Ramraj, were fired upon by a slightly bigger vessel about ten nautical miles across the notional International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

About 5-6 rounds were fired from the unmarked vessel which was carrying about 40 people, officials quoted the fishermen as saying.

Initial reports suggested the involvement of Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency (MSA), but the Coast Guard later clarified that the identity of the attackers was not yet established.

"There was no number or name written on the boat and it was carrying blue and green colour flags. There is no indication to pinpoint that the boat belongs to any particular organisation or country," Coast Guard inspector general VSR Murthy told ANI.

Pakistan media reports quoted sources in MSA as saying that none of its vessels were in the area when the incident happened.

Two ships Vijit and Meera Behn - which were on patrol duty, were immediately diverted towards the location to investigate and render assistance. A Dornier aircraft was also pressed into action to carry out aerial surveillance.

The fishing boats had set sail from Okha town of Dwarka district on September 8. They will be towed back to Okha by the Coast Guard vessels.
India and Pakistan share a disputed maritime boundary in the waters off the Gujarat coast and the region is patrolled by vessels from both sides. Dozens of fishermen are arrested in the area every year for allegedly violating the boundary.

( With inputs from agencies)



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