Bangkok, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- A Vietnamese fisherman was shot dead in a clash with Malaysia’s coast guard when the agency confronted the boat for allegedly encroaching Malaysian waters, officials said on Monday.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement agency said in a statement that the clash took place on Sunday night around 11.30 pm off the coast of the northeastern Kelantan province when its patrol boat intercepted two fishing vessels found ” illegally fishing in the country’s waters.”
“The MMEA of Kelantan had to shoot at one of two Vietnamese fishing boats inadvertently killing a fisherman when its patrol boat was threatened with actions which were aggressive and violent and imperiled the lives of its personnel,” state news agency Bernama reported.
The cost guard said that they fired warning shots in the air when the fishermen refused to stop their boats and surrender.
‘’Instead (…), they threw several diesel bombs and burning rubber at Penyelamat 7 (the patrol boat) in an effort to set it ablaze and sink it,” MMEA Kelantan Director Mod Nor Syam Asmawie Yaacob told Bernama.
He added that the officers had to “resort to their firearms” after their boat was rammed by the two fishing vessels.
After the clash, both the boats and the 18 fishermen onboard were towed to the maritime headquarters at the port of Tok Bali, where the men have been arrested and are set to be charged with illegally entering the country, illegal fishing and attempt to murder among other charges.
The Malaysian coast guard had in April 2019 launched “Operation Dragon” against illegal fishing in territorial waters by foreign vessels.
According to official data, so far 135 boats have been intercepted and 1,411 people arrested as part of the operation.
Sunday’s incident took place in the South China Sea, a strategically important maritime area which has witnessed multiple disputes over fishing and mining rights apart from rival sovereignty claims.
China claims the entire territory, disputing partial claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. EFE-EPA