Pentagon Expresses Regret, Indian Communists Demand Action in Shooting

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little at the press conference

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Washington DC – The Pentagon on Tuesday reiterated that the US Naval vessel involved in the shooting death of an Indian fisherman had issued warnings and regretted the loss of life, while Indian communists urged Delhi to demand a trial for the involved US personnel.

Addressing journalists at a press conference, George Little, the Pentagon Press Secretary said, “We certainly regret the loss of life in this incident,” adding, “The USNS Rappahannock escalated warning measures to — in response to a potential threat posed by this vessel.”

Citing the case of the USS Cole when a boat rammed the US Naval ship, Little said, “The prospect of potential threats to — you know, especially in the wake of the USS Cole, to put this into some context, there are procedures in place.”

Little added, “Based on what we know now, a series of warning measures were issued to the oncoming vessel. Those warnings were not heeded. And the vessel was fired upon.”

Asked to comment on the Indian version that no warnings were given, Little insisted, “There were, in fact, warning measures that were taken based on what we know now. This is under investigation. And we’ll know the full facts of this incident once that investigation is complete.”

Patrick Ventrell, Director of the Press Office of the US State Department, told journalists on Tuesday, “The Embassy in New Delhi did issue a statement earlier today in which we conveyed our condolences to the families of the crew, which came under fire after the vessel disregarded nonlethal warnings and rapidly approached the US ship,” adding, “We, of course, will work with our Indian counterparts and be as transparent as possible to provide them the results of our investigation once it’s finished.”

In Delhi, the heat on the Indian government was raised as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded, “The country expects the Indian government to demand that the US Naval personnel who committed this act of murder be arrested and put on trial. This is the stand which was taken in the case of the Italian Naval personnel who shot and killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala.”

Refuting the soft reaction from Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, the CPI(M) said, “The premeditated killing of an Indian fisherman and injuries to three others due to firing by a US Naval ship in the Persian Gulf within UAE waters is a highly condemnable and reprehensible act. It is shocking that the UPA government has not squarely condemned the incident and the External Affairs Minister has merely termed it as “unfortunate”.”

Lambasting the Indian government for its lukewarm response, the CPI(M) said, “This lukewarm attitude stems from the fact that India is engaged in military collaboration with the United States and the same US Navy which fired on the Indian fishermen is constantly engaged in joint Naval exercises with the Indian Navy.”

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