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Turkey condemns search on cargo ships by German military

Turkish cargo ships on the Mediterranean.   -  
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Turkey has condemned what it said was the unauthorized boarding of one of its cargo ships in the eastern Mediterranean by a German military vessel, monitoring an arms embargo against Libya.

On Sunday night, the German frigate Hamburg stopped the Turkish-flagged cargo ship MV Roseline A.

This was part of the European operation Irini, which monitors compliance with the UN ban on arms shipments to Libya.

Ankara said, the Turkish vessel stopped in the southwest Peloponnese was carrying food and humanitarian supplies to Misrata.

Armed German soldiers arrived on board the ship by rappelling down from a helicopter, according to images filmed by the crew and broadcast by the Turkish media, before taking control of the control room.

In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said "All crew members, including the captain, were forcibly searched."

It denounced an intervention "based on a suspicion that is difficult to understand," believing that the German military had no right to search the ship without Ankara's agreement.

But the German Foreign Ministry has a different version. According to one of its spokespersons in Berlin, the military had warned the Turkish authorities of their intention to inspect the ship and, in the absence of any objection, proceeded to board it.

The spokesperson said the decision was taken not by the German military, but by the headquarters of Operation Irini in Rome, adding that the intervention had been stopped after Turkey had signified its veto.

"Everything went exactly according to protocol," the spokesman said, adding that no contraband had been found.

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