KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait said Sunday its coast guard detained 10 Iranian "infiltrators," but an Iranian official described them as fishermen and denied they were detained for violating the border.
One of the Iranian men was wounded after refusing coast guard orders to surrender, Kuwait's Interior Ministry said in a statement published by the state-run Kuwait News Agency. The ministry released a photo on its website showing nine of the men on their knees with their hands behind their backs.
Sunni-led Gulf countries have long accused Shiite Iran of meddling in regional affairs, primarily in Bahrain and Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Iranian-allied rebels for more than a year.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted Ali Hajatpour, deputy chief of Bushehr province's coast guard in southern Iran, as saying Iranian fisherman were detained in Kuwait because of a "quarrel." He was quoted Saturday as saying the dispute happened on Kuwaiti soil and that "their detention was not related to a border violation."
Iran's ambassador to Kuwait, Alireza Enayati, told Iranian state television on Sunday the embassy is trying to clarify the fate of the detainees and determine their identities. "We hope to settle the case quickly" through mutual cooperation, he said.
An appeals court in Kuwait recently upheld the death sentence for a Shiite citizen on charges of communicating with Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to commit "hostile actions" against the country. The case also includes an Iranian national tried in absentia and sentenced to death.
Kuwait recalled its ambassador to Tehran in January after a mob there ransacked the Saudi Embassy in protest against the kingdom's execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric.
Karimi reported from Tehran.