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Qatar accuses UAE of 'hijacking' fishing boat

QATAR ACCUSES UAE OF HIJACKING FISHING BOAT

Qatar has told the UN that an Emirati naval vessel "intercepted and hijacked" a Qatari fishing boat earlier this year, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported Friday.

According to QNA, Alia Ahmed bin Saif Al Thani, Qatar's permanent representative to the UN, has sent a letter to this effect to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Security Council President Karel van Oosterom.

In her letter, Al Thani alleges that on Jan. 19 Qatar's maritime surveillance system had observed an Emirati military vessel trespass into Qatari territorial waters.

The letter goes on to state that the vessel had later "intercepted and hijacked" a Qatari fishing boat carrying seven fishermen and a captain, all of whom are Indian nationals.

The fishing boat was then forced "at gunpoint" to enter Emirati territorial waters, according to the letter, which goes on to describe the alleged incident as "a dangerous precedent and a violation of international norms".

"Qatar strongly condemns this act by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which constitutes a violation of international laws and conventions," the letter reads.

It goes on to hold the UAE "responsible for the safety and security of the fishing crew" and calls on the international community to demand that Abu Dhabi "abide by and respect international principles and conventions, release the crew and return all seized property".

The QNA report comes one day after Qatar's Al Jazeera news channel reported that an Emirati military transport plane had penetrated Qatari airspace without permission earlier this week.

-AIRSPACE BREACHES
It was not the first time for Qatar and the UAE to exchange accusations of airspace violations.

In mid-January, the UAE claimed that one of its civilian aircraft had been "intercepted" by Qatari fighters while en route to Bahrain.

Doha responded to the allegation by accusing the UAE of having violated its airspace on three previous occasions.

For the last nine months, the two oil-rich Gulf countries have been on opposing sides of an unprecedented diplomatic row between longstanding Arab allies.

Last summer, the UAE -- along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain -- abruptly severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

Qatar has consistently denied the allegations, accusing the four-nation bloc of infringing on its sovereignty.


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