NICOSIA – An outing to the beach on Cyprus by 10 British Army peacekeepers working with the United Nations peacekeeping forces on the island turned into a brawl in a dispute over a jet ski crash on the occupied side.
It happened at Glapsides Beach, Famagusta, where they went with their chaplain and the trouble broke out when they said Turkish-Cypriots accused two of the soldiers of crashing hired jet skis and trying to leave without paying for the damage, said Forces.Net
The troops claim a group of locals surrounded them, telling them they “would not leave the island alive,” although they said they didn’t have the equivalent of nearly $5,000 for the alleged damage.
One soldier was then punched in the head from behind, while the chaplain was attacked as the peacekeepers tried to block the attack before they fled in a car and were chased at high speed, the report added.
One of the vehicle’s paths was blocked by one of the pursuing cars, with the British claiming they were threatened with a metal pipe, before the vehicles made it to a UN base.
In a statement, the UN said: “We are investigating this incident. All UN peacekeepers are required to maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times. We need to complete our investigation before making any conclusions.”
A British Ministry of Defence spokesperson also confirmed an investigation is underway “by the UN Military Police, who are cooperating with local authorities. The media reports of events are disputed and we are confident that UK service personnel acted in an appropriate manner throughout” the MOD said.
A UN insider also told Forces News that “by withdrawing from the situation, they (the soldiers/peacekeepers) did the right thing and prevented a bad situation escalating further” into even worse trouble.
The UK is the former Colonial ruler of the island and still has military bases there, the peacekeeper force patrolling the dividing line between the Greek-Cypriot side that’s a member of the European Union and the occupied northern third.