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Arson attempt on HM Customs’ vessel seeker

The Customs vessel HMC Seeker sustained extensive damage to its inflatable collar after an arson attempt on Wednesday morning, Customs confirmed.

HMC Seeker was berthed at its designated place by Custom House, Waterport, when a small RHIB operated by an unidentified individual came into close proximity and fired a distress signal flare directly towards it.

The flare impacted the rear starboard side of the patrol vessel, causing extensive damage to the collar as it exploded. No officers were on board at the time.

The individual then fired a second flare but, on this second attempt, the flare missed the vessel and landed on the quayside, where it exploded without causing further damage to Government property or harm to the Customs Officer on duty nearby.

“The assailant subsequently sped off away from the scene,” Customs said.

“Other Marine and Land Based Customs Officers, deployed in other areas, immediately responded to the call for assistance. A thorough inspection confirmed that no further damage was sustained.”

The Royal Gibraltar Police was then informed of the incident and a forensics team was soon in attendance.

The investigation to identify the individuals continues.

Members of the public who may have any information that might assist the investigation are to contact the Royal Gibraltar Police or Customs.

“The incident could have developed into a much more serious one had the targeted vessel caught fire and the blast impacted on other vessels or buildings in the area, likely resulting in injuries or worse,” Customs said.

“The Government of Gibraltar and the Collector of Customs take a very serious view of this arson attempt on law enforcement and considers that there was a criminal intent to cause substantial damage.”

“This behaviour will not be tolerated and all measures will be put in place to protect our citizens and property; and to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.”
Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said the Government will not tolerate such attacks on Customs or any law enforcement agents.

“We have already invested in ensuring that this launch is repaired and put back to work in stopping criminal activity in our waters,” Mr Picardo said.

“The men and women of HM Customs have our full support in their work to find and punish the reckless criminals who committed these highly dangerous acts.”

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