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Hanoi Angered by Thai Shooting of Vietnamese Fishermen

FILE - Fishing boats anchor near Ly Son island, in Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province.
FILE - Fishing boats anchor near Ly Son island, in Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province.

A state-run newspaper in Vietnam has accused Thailand of violating international law when its maritime police recently shot Vietnamese three fishermen, killing one.

The official Nhan Dan online newspaper said the incident took place last week in overlapping maritime territory between Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

The report added the Vietnamese vessels fled as a Thai police boat approached, blaring through a speaker: "Vietnam vessel, stop — if not, we will shoot you to death."

A Vietnamese probe has concluded Thai police "were in violation of Vietnamese and international laws" and proposed the issue be addressed at a diplomatic level.

In an interview with VOA's Vietnamese service on Thursday, Vietnam Fisheries Society Chairman Le Thanh Luu said his group would ask the Hanoi government to request a thorough Thai investigation and compensation for fishermen and their families.

"No matter where it happened, shooting dead unarmed fishermen is inhuman and unacceptable. You can't say 'self-defense' or whatever. We strongly denounce such acts," he said.

But Reuters quoted a senior Thai official as saying the shooting was in self-defense.

The Thai maritime police chief, Major General Grittapol Yeesakhorn, said he was unaware of casualties and that police were protecting themselves when their boat was surrounded by hostile Vietnamese vessels trying to ram their boat on Friday.

"We had no intention of killing anyone. We fired only warning shots, from 100 meters away. We only shot at the front of the boat," he told Reuters by phone.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.