Piracy paranoia sparks Italo-Indian imbroglio

Indian police detained two members of an Italian navy security team Feb. 19 over the fatal shooting of two fishermen from an Italian oil tanker off the coast of Kerala state four days earlier. Italian officials said the fishing boat behaved aggressively and ignored warning shots. They said they opened fire, assuming they were pirates. India said the fishermen were unarmed. Indian police have opened a murder enquiry into the deaths, while Italy is demanding release of the detained guards. The two have been remanded into judicial custody for 14 days by a local magistrate. The Italian ambassador in Delhi was summoned by the foreign ministry over the shooting. The two countries are at odds on whether the incident took place in waters under India’s territorial jurisdiction. Indian Defence Minister AK Antony described the killings as “very serious.” The tanker, MV Enrica Lexie, bound for Singapore, is now anchored off the port of Kochi. (The Hindu, Times of India, Feb. 21; BBC News, Feb. 19)

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