Cyprus was trying to secure the release of five fishermen who were taken into custody by a Turkish warship Friday as they were fishing off the northern coast of the ethnically divided Mediterranean island nation.
Cyprus government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said authorities have protested the arrest with the U.N. peacekeeping force stationed in Cyprus. U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique said the U.N. is trying to “resolve this situation, which is regrettable.”
Cyprus Foreign Ministry spokesman Demetris Samuel said the owner of the Cyprus-flagged fishing boat told authorities that a Turkish warship approached his vessel 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the island’s northwestern coast on Friday evening.
The one Greek Cypriot and four Egyptian fishermen on board were then arrested and the boat was towed to a harbor in the country’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
A Turkish Cypriot news agency quoted police as saying that five people aboard a Greek-flagged boat were arrested for violating Turkish Cypriot territorial waters 9 miles (14 kilometers) off the northwestern coast.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and keeps some 35,000 troops in the north.