Omegous From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 293 posts, RR: 2 Posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 1389 times:
I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but it gave me a good chuckle...
British troops get lost, invade Spain
The Associated Press
GIBRALTAR -- The British military apologized Monday for invading Spain over the weekend -- by mistake.
About 20 Royal Marines went slightly off course in an amphibious exercise and stormed a Spanish beach Sunday morning near the British colony of Gibraltar, a British Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Residents of the Spanish border town of La Linea watched in astonishment as the beach filled with combat-ready troops wielding mortar launchers and SA 80 assault rifles, according to Spanish press reports, which said at least 30 troops were involved.
Spanish television station Telecinco showed footage of an advance team in combat fatigues dashing through the surf to a beach several yards from the border, with paratroopers dotting the sky in the background.
Spain's Efe news agency said the soldiers left after several Gibraltarian fishermen and local police officers told them they were on Spanish soil.
The accidental incursion came at a delicate time in negotiations between Spain and Britain over the future of Gibraltar, where Britain established a military base in 1704.
The 2.5-square-mile territory was formally ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Gibraltar is an irritant to British-Spanish relations and the two countries are trying to reach an agreement, that would include the colony's internal self-governance, by summer.
The spokesman, who could not be identified under Defense Ministry rules, said the "regrettable and embarrassing" error lasted no more than five minutes.
He said the mishap was likely caused by a map-reading error, although details of an investigation carried out on board the HMS Ocean helicopter carrier, where the soldiers came from, were being kept secret.
However, a statement from the British Forces Gibraltar office blamed the incident on "poor visibility due to local weather and a number of local fishermen being seen on the intended target beach."
It added that there was a second border breach Sunday when a similar landing craft lost power and "drifted outside Gibraltar waters."
Local police spokesman David Iria said the mistake was understandable, because it is "difficult to know exactly where you are" on the poorly marked coastline.
The HMS Ocean, which had stopped at Gibraltar for maintenance, was heading to the Indian Ocean to support military operations in Afghanistan, the spokesman said.