Pakistan rejects Indian report on blowing up of boat

KARACHI: Pakistan rejected Indian claim that the crew of a Pakistani fishing boat blew up and sank their vessel after trying to evade capture at the hands of the Indian navy in a high-speed chase at sea.

Foreign Office Spokesman Tasneem Aslam said categorically that no boat from Keti Bunder has gone to the open sea.

Sources in the Foreign office termed the Indian claim as mere propaganda to tarnish the image of Pakistan.

An AFP report quoting Indian defence ministry claimed that all four people on board the vessel from near the Pakistani port city of Karachi are believed to have been killed in the dramatic episode in the Arabian Sea on New Year’s Eve.

It says Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft tried to intercept the boat near the maritime border with Pakistan, around 365 kilometers from the coastal state of Gujarat, following an intelligence tip-off.

“However, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour,” an Indian defence ministry statement added.

Although the boat did eventually stop after warning shots were fired, the four-man crew then hid themselves below deck before setting the boat on fire which triggered a large explosion.

“Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and persons on board could not be saved or recovered. The boat burnt and sank in the same position, in early hours of January 1,” said the statement.

Although the defence ministry would only say that the crew were planning “some illicit transaction”, it also stated that the boat was carrying explosives.