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Italy's navy accuses Turkish fishing boats of aggression in the Mediterranean

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An Italian navy ship patrols the waters in front of the Sicilian town of Taormina in the Mediterranean Sea.
An Italian navy ship patrols the waters in front of the Sicilian town of Taormina in the Mediterranean Sea.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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Italy's navy has accused Turkish fishing boats of launching stones towards two Italian vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

The clashes allegedly took place on Tuesday morning north of Cyprus, the Italian navy said in a statement.

"At approximately 10.10, in the waters north of Cyprus, there was an interaction between an unspecified number of Turkish fishing vessels and two national vessels," the statement read.

The Turkish vessels threw "stones and smoke bombs" and performed close maneuvres near the ships, the Italian navy added.

One of the Italian vessels was slightly damaged after the contact.

Italy said it had dispatched a frigate helicopter that was on NATO patrols 35 miles south of the incident.

A Turkish coast guard motorboat also went to the scene, and the Turkish fishing boats were "induced to cease action," the navy said.

The boats then announced their intention to join another group of vessels operating six miles to the west, it added.

"The interventions of the Turkish Coast Guard and the Italian Navy were clearly of a deescalatory nature and allowed the situation to be restored under control."

Neither Turkish nor Cypriot authorities have commented on the incident.