The environmental organization Greenpeace said Spanish navy boats that rammed a dinghy carrying activists on Saturday injured four people, one of them seriously.
The navy has disputed the account, saying it dispatched two boats from one of its ships to prevent Greenpeace from boarding a large oil-drilling ship and that one of the activists was seriously injured when she fell out of her dinghy and was hit by its props.
Speaking by radio-telephone from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the area, Capt. Joel Stewart told NBC News that the woman was a 23-year-old Italian activist and said the other three injuries were minor. The navy said it rushed the woman to a Spanish hospital in a helicopter.
In Madrid, lawmaker Diego Lopez Garrido of Spain's main opposition Socialist party said he will call defense minister Pedro Morenes to Parliament to explain the navy's actions, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
Last month, at the Spanish government's request, the Constitutional Court blocked a proposal by the Canary Islands regional government to hold a referendum on oil exploration in waters off the popular tourist archipelago off northwestern Africa.
The government licensed the Spanish energy company Repsol YPF S.A. to begin oil exploration there and it is doing that now from a large oil-drilling ship with a platform.