Greek coast guard shoots at cargo ship suspected of smuggling weapons to Libya

The Greek coast guard shot at a Ro-Ro ship on Saturday, when it refused to stop for an inspection off the coast of Bozcaada (Tenedos) in the northern Aegean.

The Comoros-flagged vessel was suspected of smuggling weapons from Turkey to Libya, Greek City Times reported.

The vessel Anatolian was not emitting a signal, which is why the coast guard requested the inspection. Two Greek boats left the area after the Turkish Coast Guard showed up with two boats.

The Greek Coast Guard said in a statement that the Anatolian had been “moving suspiciously within national territorial waters”, while Turkish officials maintain that it was sailing in international waters.

Anatolian sailed from Somalia to Turkey’s Black Sea port of Kastamonu for repairs, Cengiz Oluç, an official from the company that owns the vessel told the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The Greek coast guard did not make any announcements, Oluç said.

Anatolian was anchored in the Çanakkale strait while the owning company and the vessel’s 18-member crew testified at the prosecutor’s office.

The vessel was formerly known as Mavi Marmara, and was involved in an activist-led attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010. In the incident that came to be known as the Gaza flotilla raid, Mavi Marmara was boarded by Israeli soldiers. Ten Turkish citizens were killed aboard the ship, while 10 Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Turkey has been accused of smuggling weapons into Libya before, in violation of a United Nations embargo. Most recently, India raised concerns at the U.N. Security Council meeting on Aug. 30. At least eight countries came together in 2020 to counter Turkey’s alleged weapons shipments to Libya at the time.

The ongoing tensions between Greece and Turkey could start to look like “a situation similar to that currently unfolding in some other part of our continent,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in his letters to several international bodies last week, alluding to the war in Ukraine.

Turkish diplomatic sources told Anadolu that the incident was “entirely in violation of international law”, and that authorities have demanded that Greece provide an explanation immediately.

On Sunday Anadolu reported that investigations of the incident were completed and the vessel was allowed to sail forth.

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