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    Madrid to File Protest Over UK Navy Firing Flares at Spanish Boat Off Gibraltar

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    Spain will make a formal protest to the United Kingdom in connection with Britain's Royal Navy firing warning flares at a Spanish research vessel off the coast of Gibraltar, a representative of the Spanish Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti Monday.

    MADRID (Sputnik) — On Sunday, British navy patrol boat HMS Sabre fired flares to warn off a Spanish vessel that entered the disputed waters off Gibraltar.

    "We will officially make a protest to the British authorities because of the actions of the British Royal Navy," the representative said.

    The Spanish research vessel Angeles Alvarino, operated by Spain's state Oceanographic Institute, was attempting to place a sonar buoy for conducting geological research into the waters. According to the Spanish Foreign Ministry it was "fulfilling its normal functions, carrying out work in the waters near Gibraltar, which, according to Spain, are under its sovereignty."

    The United Kingdom considers three nautical miles around Gibraltar to be its territory, which is not recognized by Spain.

    Gibraltar is located on the Iberian peninsula and has been controlled by London since 1713. Some 300 years ago, Spain ceded Gibraltar to the United Kingdom but Madrid continues to lay claim to the territory. In a referendum held in 2002, over 98 percent of citizens of Gibraltar rejected the proposal for Spanish sovereignty.

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