NEWS

Frigate in incident off Oman

A Greek navy frigate patrolling the Arabian Sea as part of an international flotilla targeting the Al Qaeda terrorist network fired warning shots at a small speedboat that was coming at it off the coast of Oman, the navy announced yesterday. The navy downplayed the incident, saying that it did not appear the unidentified vessel had wanted to approach the frigate Adrias which was on a routine patrol on the southern side of the Straits of Hormuz. «A small speedboat with one passenger approached – apparently by mistake – the Greek frigate which, in order to recognize the said vessel, first fired a flare and then, in order to deter its approach, fired warning shots in a safe sector with a portable weapon. The speedboat pulled away toward the coast of Oman,» the navy announcement said. «The incident is considered insignificant and if it were day none of the above would have taken place, given that, as can be concluded, the speedboat had no intention of approaching the warship and sped away as soon as it spotted it,» it added. «It is believed that the speedboat was involved in smuggling, as there is frequent traffic by such vessels in this region.» The announcement, however, was in response to a report by the Agence France-Presse from Tokyo that a Japanese flotilla of five naval vessels about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Greek ship went on the alert against a possible terror attack. Admiral Toru Ishikawa, the chief of Japanese naval staff, first released the information to Japanese defense reporters during a regular briefing. He described the incident with the Adrias as a «possible terrorist attempt,» according to the Kyodo news agency. «I ordered our forces in the area to be alert as it worries me,» Ishikawa was quoted as saying.