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Britain angered by Spanish intrusion of Gibraltar

Spanish police allegedly entered Gibraltar's airspace and territorial water.

By Ed Adamczyk
The border crossing between Spain and Gibraltar. Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org. A. Koehler
The border crossing between Spain and Gibraltar. Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org. A. Koehler

GIBRALTAR , Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Britain accused Spain of violating Gibraltar's sovereignty as Spanish officials chased suspected drug smugglers over the weekend.

Vessels of the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera (SVA), the Spanish anti-drug squad, were escorted from Gibraltar waters Saturday by the Royal Navy as the SVA pursued the suspected smugglers for two days.

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Gibraltar, a 2.3-square mile outpost of the British Commonwealth on the southern coast of Spain, has been British property since 1713, a longstanding sore point with Spain.

British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire later said, "It is completely unacceptable and unlawful under the international law of the sea to enter our waters without notifying us. These repeated incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters are a clear violation of U.K. sovereignty by another EU country and we will be raising this as a matter of urgency with the Spanish authorities."

He added he understood the Spanish vessels were in pursuit of those believed to be committing crimes, but was angered British and Gibraltar authorities were not notified. Spanish police allegedly flew a helicopter over a Gibraltar beach, which the Gibraltar government described as "extremely dangerous," and also boarded a boat, questioning the crew, in Gibraltar waters.

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