Friends of Muthu Muniraj, one of the fishermen injured at sea on Monday, check on him as he sleeps in the emergency ward at a hospital in Dubai. The US and the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu are discussing the compensation to be paid to the victims of US navy shooting off the Dubai coast Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Authorities in the UAE and the US Navy are investigating a United States navy oil-supply vessel’s firing on a fishing boat off the coast of Jebel Ali, killing an Indian fisherman and critically injuring three other men, officials said.

“The UAE’s authorities are investigating [the incident],” Wam quoted Dr Tareq Ahmad Al Hidan, political affairs assistant to the Foreign Minister, as saying.

According to a US military official a US navy vessel fired upon a small motor vessel on Monday off the coast of Dubai after the motor vessel “disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the US ship.

“The US 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 [US navy vessel] Rappahannock fired rounds from a 0.50-calibre machine gun,” Lt Greg Raelson, the media officer at the US 5th-fleet based in Bahrain, told Gulf News.

However, he didn’t comment further on the causes, nor whether the US navy thought it was an Iranian motor vessel. The incident coincides with increasing tension between Iran and the rest of the international community over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme and the Western sanctions on exporting Iranian oil.

“The incident is under investigation,” he said in a statement issued on Monday.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE M.K. Lokesh visited three Indian fishermen on Tuesday evening who were injured in a shooting by a US navy ship in waters off Dubai on Monday.

Lokesh told Gulf News ahead of the visit that he will meet the injured fishermen to offer any sort of assistance they may need. He said the Government of India was informed that the UAE and the US authorities are investigating the incident. “We have requested them to share the details of the investigations with us,” Lokesh said. Asked about any initial feedback from the UAE and the US about the investigations, he said : “Today is just the fist day after the incident and it may take little bit more time to get any feedback.”

He said all the four Indian fishermen involved in the incident are from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Indians mission will do the needful to repatriate the body of Sekhar who died in the incident. He said the mission was waiting for the completion of formalities related to the investigations by the local authorities. “We are in touch with the families of the deceased and the injured to extend all assistance to them,” Lokesh explained.

Three recuperating in Rashid Hospital

He said three injured men are out of danger and recuperating at Rashid Hospital in Dubai.

They are K. Muthukannan, Muthumuniya Raj and Pandu Sanathan, the ambassador said while on the way to meet them.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna called the incident “unfortunate” and said he hoped that “the necessary action will be initiated”.

Indian Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said New Delhi has been in touch with US agencies and has been promised “a full investigation”, while the US ambassador to New Delhi Nancy Powell had telephoned “to convey her regret for the loss of life”, he added.