A TUG of war between the Spanish and Gibraltar police over a smuggler’s boat has led to a further escalation of tensions.
The incident happened on Thursday after a Guardia Civil vessel entered Gibraltar waters to intercept a pleasure cruiser that was loaded up with 300 packs of contraband cigarettes.
A Gibraltar patrol boat intervened to try to prevent the operation in British waters, allegedly ramming the smugglers’ vessel with the Civil Guard officers aboard.
It then attempted to tow the vessel back to Gibraltar, at which point there was a tense face-off between police officers from both sides.
It lead to claims in the Spanish press that a Guardia Civil officer was knocked to the deck injuring himself, claims that are denied by Gibraltar government.
A second Spanish ship was finally able to take control of the smugglers’ boat and tow it into the Spanish port, where the smugglers were arrested.
A spokesman for the Guardia Civil Union said a formal complaint would be filed.
“We consider this to be a clear criminal act against us during the exercise of our duties,” he said.
“Something much more serious could have happened, and that is why we demand that the government take action to stop the escalating harassment by the Gibraltar police against us.”
The UK warned that Spanish actions in British waters around the Rock risked serious injury or even death.
Tensions have been further increased with claims that Gibraltar has once again brought more rocks in to bolster its defences.
The Spanish media claimed a boat from Morocco brought in more big rocks and sand for the Sandy Bar area on the Eastern face of the Rock.