Turkish freighter M/V ACT moored at Marmaris port, Turkey. July 3, 2017
Turkish freighter M/V ACT moored at Marmaris port, Turkey. July 3, 2017

The Greek coast guard opened fire on a Turkish cargo ship after the captain defied an order to dock at a port in the Aegean Sea for a search as the ship was reportedly cruising in international waters. The crew was unharmed.

M/V ACT Captain Sami Kalkavan told broadcaster CNN Turk the coast guard ordered him to dock at the Greek island of Rhodes for inspection and opened fire after he failed to comply, leaving 16 bullet holes in the vessel.

"The coast guard asked for the ship to be docked at the port at Rhodes immediately, and we did not accept this. They wanted to check (the ship), and we didn't accept that," he told the broadcaster.

"They said they would fire if we didn't stop, they did what they said."

Initial reports suggested the vehicle was transporting steel.

The Greek coast guard confirmed the incident, saying it approached the vessel and asked the captain to dock at Rhodes after the authority received an anonymous call saying drugs were being transported.

An official from the Greek shipping ministry confirmed that the coast guard tried to inspect the ship's cargo, adding that the vessel did not cooperate and then moved back to Turkish waters. The official did not comment on whether the coast guard opened fire.

The coast guard first fired in the air, then at the ACT, according to Greek media reports.

At least three ships belonging to the Turkish coast guard were dispatched to the scene of the dispute.

Turkey strongly condemned the Greek coastguard on Monday for firing on the freighter and called it a "disproportionate" act that disregarded the most basic right of human life.

"There is no justification ... for firing on an unarmed commercial ship carrying freight between two Turkish ports," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Our sole consolation is that nobody was killed or injured as a result of the incident."

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah brings the latest.

Kalkavan confirmed the ship, which had set off from Turkey's southeastern city of Iskenderun near Turkey's Syrian border, had returned to Turkish waters.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies