Kuwait, Dec. 3 (Reuters): An Iraqi vessel opened fire at two Kuwaiti coast guard boats in northern Kuwaiti waters today but there were no serious casualties, Kuwaiti officials said.
The incident could inflame tensions between the two Gulf war foes, whose mutual borders have been closed since US-led troops evicted Iraq from Kuwait after a seven-month occupation in 1991.
An interior ministry official said the Kuwaiti boats had taken evasive action after coming under fire in the Gulf and had collided. One person was slightly injured in the collision.
“They were on a routine patrol when they were fired at by an Iraqi vessel near Warba island,” the official told Reuters.
Warba island is off the northeastern tip of Kuwait, close to Iraqi soil. The official declined to comment on what action Kuwait would take over the incident.
Kuwait, a key ally of the United States in the region, is on high alert due to a possible US-led attack on Iraq if Baghdad does not satisfy Washington’s demand that it prove itself free of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq insists it has no chemical, biological or nuclear arms. UN weapons inspections are currently under way in Iraq. More than 10,000 US troops are in Kuwait for training exercises not far from the Iraqi border, and Kuwait is expected to be a key launching pad for any US invasion of Iraq. Iraqi forces have also fired at US and British aircraft attacking targets in Iraq’s northern and southern “no-fly” zones in recent days. The exchanges have risen sharply in recent months as speculation grows over possible war.