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Thu 3 Jul 2008 02:57 PM

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Iran seizes Saudi boats near nuclear plant

Iran says detained four Saudi fishing vessels in waters near its first nuclear power plant.

Iran said on Thursday that it has seized four Saudi fishing vessels crewed by Indian nationals in territorial waters near its first nuclear power plant, the Fars news agency reported.

"The Bushehr marine police seized four foreign fishing vessels for violating territorial waters and illegal fishing," the commander of Bushehr province's police Reza Mohammadi Yeghaneh was quoted as saying.

"The vessels belong to Saudi Arabia and all the 17 crew on board are Indian nationals," he said.

He said the boats were seized around 30 nautical miles (55 kilometres) from the Bushehr nuclear plant, which is being completed by a Russian firm and is due to go online later this year.

The Islamic republic takes serious action against any illegal entry into its territorial waters.

In June 2007 Iran arrested the crew of three Emirati boats it had seized for illegal entry and fishing in its territorial waters in the Gulf.

In March 2007, Iranian naval forces seized 15 British sailors and marines in the Gulf, claiming they had entered Iran's territorial waters but Britain insisted they had been engaged in anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi waters. The group was freed after two weeks in captivity.

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