Spanish humanitarian organization, Proactiva Open Arms, said Friday that Libyan coastguards intercepted their ship as it was trying to rescue immigrants in the Mediterranean.
The Founder of the Spanish NGO, Oscar Camps, tweeted that Libyan coastguards approached a rescue operation they were conducting 73 miles off Libyan coast, adding that Libyan navy personnel fired warning shots and demanded the rescuers to hand over the women and children they rescued.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Navy accused the Spanish NGO of "starting a contest with Libyan coastguards to rescue migrants."
In a statement, the Libyan navy said one of its boats was on a patrol after given details of a boat in need of rescue in the sea by the Italian coastguards' command.
"10 miles before we arrived to the boat, we found Proactiva Open Arms ship. We left it behind and went to the rescue." The statement reads.
It added that the Spanish ship then sent two dinghies so they can reach the immigrants' boat disregarding the fact that the Libyan navy is doing the rescue operation of humans.
"The Spanish ship acted as if it was hunting preys." The statement remarked.
"For over two hours, the migrants' boat was waiting until the Spanish ship arrived despite the fact that the Libyan boat was within close distance and could save the migrants without waiting so long in the sea, yet the presence of the Spanish ship complicated the operation and made the migrants reject the Libyan boats help, with some jumping in the water." The statement adds.
It also explains that the Libyan coastguards had to depart the area and leave to the Spanish NGO for the safety of the migrants.
"Proactiva Open Arms rejected all the orders and instructions of the Libyan Navy, which is the chief of rescue operations as it has arrived first to the rescue area. Plus, the Libyan Navy's boat is a military ship and thus is entitled to this rescue operation and has the right to do it as the sea zone belongs to Libyan waters." The statement further adds.
The Libyan Navy also explained that despite all of what happened, they left the rescue operation to the foreign NGO upon humanitarian grounds.