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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer sailor killed in raid on VN fishing boats

Khmer sailor killed in raid on VN fishing boats

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

escaped.

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

weapons.

The patrol boats located the fishing vessels, whose crews, when

asked to surrender, opened fire with machine guns and grenade

launchers.

Navy gunships were sent to the area after the deaths of one

Khmer, and wounding of two others, were reported by radio.

The navy

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

time.

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

accept.

"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

robberies.

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.

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