Italian FM: Libya strafed Sicilian boat with gunfire

September 14, 2010 00:34

ROME — Italy's foreign minister on Monday announced that a Libyan patrol boat with an Italian border police observer aboard had strafed a Sicilian fishing vessel in the Mediterranean, but no one was hurt.

Minister Franco Frattini said Monday that Libya apologized for the machine gun shooting.

Frattini told Italian state TV that the Italian paramilitary border police officer was aboard Sunday as part of Italian-Libyan efforts to crack down on smugglers' boats trafficking in illegal migrants.

Bulletholes pocked the boat, which returned safely to port in Sicily. Frattini said the Libyans had given an order to shoot in the air but somehow hit the fishing boat Sunday. Italy has opened an investigation.

Libya sometimes seizes Sicilian boats it claims violate its waters.

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