February 22, 2018 / 3:31 PM / 7 months ago

Saudi Arabia frees nine Iranian fisherman detained two years ago: Iran

LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has freed nine Iranian fishermen detained two years ago, Iranian state TV said on Thursday but a tenth fisherman was killed in the initial incident, his brother said.

Tension between Shi’ite Iran and Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy has run high in recent years. The two countries have backed opposing forces in wars across the Middle East, usually along sectarian lines.

Saudi authorities released the men in a boat in Iranian waters on Wednesday and Iran’s state television showed pictures of them being welcomed by their families.

Saudi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment. The country broke all ties with Iran in 2016.

Saudi coast guards arrested the men in the Gulf somewhere between Farsi and Arabi Islands and accused them of entering its waters, Tasnim news agency quoted a local official in Iran’s Fisheries Organization in southern city of Bushehr as saying.

The coast guards shot the boat’s owner and “no sign of him has been found,” Ahmadi said. A fisherman told state television “his brother was killed” in the incident and “his body remains in a morgue in Saudi Arabia”.

State TV said other Iranian fishermen remain in custody in Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Additional reporting by Katie Paul in Riyadh; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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