O NE Cambodian sailor was killed and two wounded when fired upon by Vietnamese
fishing boats near Sihanoukville last month, authorities say.
Two of the
boats were seized - and seven Vietnamese fishermen arrested - while four others
The incident happened on the night of July 20 when six boats
were detected on navy radar about 20km from the Ream Naval Base, according to
Royal navy deputy commander Khieng Savorn.
Two small, wooden patrol boats
were dispatched to investigate, he said. Neither were carrying
The patrol boats located the fishing vessels, whose crews, when
asked to surrender, opened fire with machine guns and grenade
Navy gunships were sent to the area after the deaths of one
Khmer, and wounding of two others, were reported by radio.
managed to stop two of their boats about 50km off Cambodian soil and seized
their crew and weapons. Savorn said two 12mm machine guns, an AK47 rifle and a
M79 grenade launcher were taken.
The seven Vietnamese fishermen were
taken to the Ream Naval Base, where they were still being held at press
Vietnamese Embassy Third Secretary Van Dzung in Phnom Penh said an
embassy representative was in Sihanoukville to try to arrange some sort of
settlement to the case.
He agreed that if the fishermen had illegally
carried and used weapons "they have to be punished because they acted against
our government's policy."
Savorn said the Vietnamese would be prosecuted
in a Khmer court.
"We could release them if they had just violated our
territory, but in this case they committed a crime which we cannot
"They illegally entered Cambodia's sovereignty, to catch fish,
and then killed and wounded our soldiers. We have to solve this problem
according to Cambodian law."
Savorn said that while some fishermen said
they carried weapons for protection, they could also use them for
He believed it was the first such attack by Vietnamese boats
since the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia to topple the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979,
though there had been repeated problems with Vietnamese and Thai boats illegally
fishing in Cambodian waters.