Friday, March 23, 2007

Iran seizes 15 British HMS Cornwall sailors at boundary of territorial waters

Above: The HMS Cornwall in the Persian Gulf. In July 2004, eight British servicemen — six marines and two sailors from the Royal Navy — were detained by Iranian forces who claimed that the Britons’ patrol boats were illegally operating on the Iranian side of the Shatt al Arab waterway, the channel at the head of the Gulf that forms part of the border between Iraq and Iran. In that incident, the Britons, who said they were forcibly escorted into Iranian waters, were held for three days and were displayed, blindfolded, on Iranian television before being released unharmed.

Fifteen Royal Navy personnel were today captured by Iran while they were conducting “routine boarding operations” in Iraqi waters, the Ministry of Defence said.

“At approximately 10.30am Iraqi time, 15 British naval personnel, engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters ... were seized by Iranian naval vessels,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The boarding party had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

“We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and on the instructions of the Foreign Secretary, the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office. The British government is demanding the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment.”

A spokesman for the US defence department said that the Britons were captured by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard navy as they were travelling along the boundary of territorial waters between Iran and Iraq.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

Related Link:
Iran threatens to hit back at US ‘kidnaps’