Two Spanish customs officers injured and shots fired during incident on Eastern beach
by Brian Reyes and Maria Jesus Corrales
Police in Gibraltar are investigating an incident on Eastern beach in the early hours of Thursday morning during which two Spanish customs officers were injured after being pelted with rocks by a group of suspected smugglers, and during which shots were fired.
The incident appears to have unfolded at around 5am after a small rigid-hulled inflatable boat belonging to a larger patrol boat operated by Spanish customs, the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera [SVA], lost engine power in rough seas close to the shoreline in Eastern beach as it chased a small boat suspected of involvement in tobacco smuggling.
The waves pushed the SVA boat to shore where, according to Spanish law enforcement sources, the two officers on board were surrounded by a large group of individuals and pelted with rocks, some of them up to 20cm across.
Both officers sustained injuries but managed to refloat their vessel and row out to sea, the Spanish sources said.
An association representing SVA officers said one of the two had sustained serious facial injuries and that the incident unfolded during an operation targeting tobacco smugglers.
Video circulating on social media appears to show at least two shots being fired during the incident, though it was not clear at what stage during the events or who fired them.
One source told the Chronicle they were "probably" warning shots fired by the SVA officers, all of whom are armed.
Law enforcement agencies from Gibraltar also deployed to the scene of the incident.
An HM Customs patrol boat was first on the scene, with the Royal Gibraltar Police arriving too shortly after.
Details of the incident are still being pieced together by the authorities here.
“The Government understands that RGP officers are carrying out a search in connection with last night’s incident,” a spokesman for the Gibraltar Government said.
"The Government is waiting for a full detailed report which sets out the facts before commenting."
A spokesperson for The Convent, the office of the Governor, said: “The Convent is aware of an incident involving Spanish customs in the vicinity of Eastern beach last night."
"An investigation is currently ongoing by the RGP and the Governor is waiting for a full report.”
The RGP has not commented on the incident or its ongoing investigation.