NICOSIA (AP) — Cyprus was trying to secure the release of five fishermen who were taken into custody by a Turkish warship Friday as they fished off the northern coast of the ethnically divided Mediterranean island nation.
The Cyprus government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, said authorities had filed a protest of the detentions with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus. U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique said the U.N. was trying to “resolve this situation, which is regrettable.”
Cyprus Foreign Ministry spokesman Demetris Samuel said the owner of the Cyprus-flagged fishing boat told authorities that a Turkish warship approached his vessel 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the island’s northwestern coast Friday evening.
The one Greek Cypriot and four Egyptian fishermen on board were then arrested and the boat was towed to a harbor in the island’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
A Turkish Cypriot news agency quoted police as saying five people aboard a Greek-flagged boat were arrested for violating Turkish Cypriot territorial waters, at a spot nine miles (14 kilometers) off the northwestern coast.
The north’s foreign minister, Kudret Ozersay, described all five fishermen aboard the boat were Egyptian citizens.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and keeps some 35,000 soldiers in the north.