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Iranian Forces Seize 15 British Sailors During Patrol in Persian Gulf

Iranian forces seized 15 British seamen during a search operation in the Shatt al Arab waterway in the Persian Gulf on Friday. The British government has demanded their immediate release, as VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.

Commodore Nick Lambert of the HMS Cornwall, said the British sailors were on a routine anti-smuggling operation. He said they had boarded and searched a merchant vessel and were then seized.

"Our understanding is that the boarding party returned to its boats, which were then promptly arrested by a group of Iranian patrol boats inside Iraqi territorial waters," he said.

The British government has demanded the immediate release of its naval personnel, and Iran's ambassador in London was summoned to the Foreign Office on Friday.

There was no immediate comment from Iran on the reason for Friday's seizure. The incident comes at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Britain and the U.S. over the situation in Iraq and over Iran's nuclear program.