A Turkish coastguard ship fired warning shots at a Cypriot police boat on Friday. The boat was on patrol for undocumented migrants, Cypriot media reported.
The incident came amid high tensions on the island as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares to visit the separatist Turkish Cypriot north next week to mark the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion.
The Cypriot vessel spotted the Turkish coast guard about 11 nautical miles from the small fishing port of Kato Pyrgos, just west of the UN-guarded armistice line separating territory controlled by the separatist northern government , reported the Cypriot News Agency.
Cypriot police spokesperson Christos Andreou told AIIC the coast guard was in the territorial waters of Cyprus. The incident took place at 00:30 GMT, he said.
He added that the boat was on regular patrol to check irregular migrants. The area is a disembarkation point for migrants from Turkey.
“The three members of the crew of the patrol boat seeing the intentions of the Turkish coast guard tried to avoid any incident and headed for the fishing shelter of Kato Pyrgos,” he said.
âAt a distance of four nautical miles from the shelter, the maritime police boat received warning shots from the Turkish Coast Guard.
“Then, being a short distance from the coast, the Turkish coast guard left for the occupied territories” (of northern Cyprus), he said.
Tensions are high ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the island next week. Greek Cypriots regard this tour as a provocation. Erdogan will visit the abandoned resort town of Varosha, which was emptied of its Greek Cypriot residents by the Turkish invasion.
Cypriot police have stepped up their land and sea patrols since the government declared a “state of emergency” in May following an influx of Syrian migrants that flooded its reception centers.
(With agency entries)