The freighter’s captain, Haluk Sami Kalkavan, told Turkish media on Monday that the Greek coast guards approached his vessel in international waters, demanded that it dock at a port in Rhodes and fired on it when he refused. He said his crew counted 16 bullet holes on the vessel but the ship was not in danger of sinking.
The Greek Coast Guard said it tried to stop the vessel following “an anonymous telephone complaint” that it was carrying narcotics. It said the ship was in Greek waters.
“Warning shots were fired but the ship did not change course,” the Greek Coast Guard said. “The competent Turkish authorities have been informed of the incident.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a strong condemnation over the incident, accusing Greece of “disregarding human life.”
It added: “There is no explanation that can justify shooting at a commercial and therefore unarmed ship that is sailing between two Turkish ports.”
The state-run Anadolu Agency said the Turkish coast guard dispatched two boats while the navy sent an assault boat to the region following the incident. The boat was being accompanied back to Turkish waters where the crew would be questioned.
NATO allies Greece and Turkey have a series of unresolved territorial disputes, including maritime boundaries. More recently, Turkey has been angered by Greek court decisions against extraditing military officials who escaped to Greece after last year’s failed military coup.