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Tensions Flare Over Rock Of Gibraltar


Now to an international battle. Once again, Spain and Britain are at odds over a tiny limestone peninsula at Europe's southern tip - Gibraltar. It's physically attached to Spain, but it's been a British territory for 300 years. Some Spaniards want it back.

Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid on the latest controversy - fishing rights off Gibraltar's disputed coast.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Most of Gibraltar's 29,000 residents are British citizens, but many drive over the border to Spain regularly.

Now Spain is threatening to slap a fee of about $65 on anyone crossing to or from the two-and-a-half square-mile territory. The past two days have seen long lines and delays as border patrols step up security.

CARMEN CRESPO: (Foreign language spoken)

FRAYER: It's an established border, and we have to patrol for contraband, says Carmen Crespo, a Spanish official in nearby Andalusia.

British officials say that's an excuse. Last month, Gibraltar dropped 70 huge concrete blocks into nearby waters to create an artificial reef. Spanish fishermen say that's disrupted their livelihood.

Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, told the BBC Spain is acting in revenge.

FABIAN PICARDO: What we've seen is saber-rattling of the sort that we haven't seen for some time, the more reminiscent of the type of statement you'd hear from North Korea than from an EU partner.

FRAYER: British Prime Minister David Cameron has made a phone call to his Spanish counterpart to raise serious concerns about the situation on Gibraltar's border.

For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.