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One dead as US vessel fires on boat

A US navy vessel has fired on a boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing one person and injuring three, according to the US Consulate in Dubai.

The navy said a security team aboard one of its ships fired on a small boat after it disregarded warnings and raced toward the vessel near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.

Lt Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said sailors aboard the USNS Rappahannock issued a series of warnings before resorting to lethal force using a .50-calibre machine gun.

The US Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said it is investigating the incident.

Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the white-hulled boat, which sat docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors.

The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30ft long and powered by three outboard motors. Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.

Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on. Officials moved the boat from the harbour shortly afterward.

US military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speedboats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to US ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.

In early 2008, then-US president George W Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.

Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz - the route for one-fifth of the world's oil - in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme. The US recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf with additional minesweepers and other warships.

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