Cyprus Mail

British bases deny civilian speedboat was strafed

By Elias Hazou

AUTHORITIES at the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Akrotiri yesterday denied claims that a speedboat was nearly strafed with bullets while cruising in the area.

An SBA spokesman did confirm, however, that the shooting range in the area has been reserved for a live-fire exercise.

The people on board the speedboat – a group of six, including two children – told state broadcaster CyBC that their vessel came close to being struck by a hail of bullets.

While at sea, they first noticed splashes on the surface of the water, which they initially thought to be fish or dolphins. The splashes gradually came closer, from 100m to within 10m of the boat.

The group said they initially did not hear any sounds, as their radio was turned on. Once they switched off the radio, however, they began hearing the sound of automatic gunfire.

Shocked, the party on board turned the boat around and raced away to safety.

They reported the incident to Greek Cypriot port authorities shortly later, but were told to take the matter up with SBA authorities. It was not clear whether the group filed a complaint with the SBA.

The group also claimed that a helicopter was shadowing their boat for several nautical miles after their close call.

But an SBA spokesman, speaking to CyBC later, denied the existence of any vessels in the sea area, as well as the claims about an airborne helicopter.

He did however confirm that the shooting range at Akrotiri had been reserved for live-fire exercises. The spokesman questioned the credibility of the claims, saying that during exercises the SBA posts lookouts to warn off any vessels in the vicinity.

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