Up to 16 killed in Israeli attack on aid flotilla bound for Gaza

16:17, May 31, 2010      

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Palestinians ride boats in a preparation ceremony to receive the international aid convoy "Freedom Flotilla" in Gaza Seaport, on May 30, 2010. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Israeli forces on Monday attacked an international flotilla carrying aid to besieged Gaza, killing up to 16 and wounding more than 30 others, an Israeli television reported.

The clash happened after Isreali soldiers tried to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza. Israel's private Channel 10 television said Israeli forces opened fire after being attacked by a number of passengers.

The Isreali Army Radio also put the number of deaths toll at up to 16, saying that more than 30 others were injured.

The flotilla consisting of six ships were carrying about 10,000 tons of aid and activists who were making an attempt to break the blockade on Gaza.

Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of a Turkish ship at about 4:30 a.m. and immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians, said a twitter of the human rights group Free Gaza Movement.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman's office cannot confirm any of the report at the moment.

Sources told Xinhua that seven of the injuries were admitted to Israel's Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The hospital's spokesman David Ratner said that a 20-year-old, moderately hurt man was delivered by a chopper from the sea, but denied that he was from the aid ship.

Live image shows that Israeli soldiers from the helicopter and a number of speedboats boarded one of the ships at night. Activists wearing life vests were treating what appeared to be injuries for unknown reasons.

The English channel of Qatar's Al Jazeera television said the clash happened in international waters off the Gaza coast after activists ignored Isreali order to turn back.

The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and was expected to reach Gaza by Monday morning, Al-Jazeera reported.

The flotilla, originally made up of nine ships from Turkey, Britain, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria, were carrying cement, water purification systems and wheelchairs. One of the ships had not arrived and two others had been damaged.

Source: Xinhuastory
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