Thu, Sep 22, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Indonesia shoots at Chinese boats

AP AND DPA , JAKARTA

An Indonesian warship opened fire on a Chinese fishing fleet it suspected of using illegal nets, killing one crew member and wounding two others, an Indonesian navy spokesman said.

The four Chinese fishing boats did not respond to radio and visual signals from the warship and tried to flee after warning shots were fired on Monday in the Arafuru Sea off Papua Island, Toni Syaiful from Indonesia's eastern fleet said.

The warship then fired several rounds from its 20mm gun at the largest vessel in the fleet, Syaiful said.

"We were upholding the law and we responded in line with procedures," he told el-Shinta radio. "The nets the vessels were using were illegal."

The dead crewman and his two injured colleagues were all Chinese citizens, he said.

Chinese diplomats condemned the shooting.

"We are shocked to know that our citizen was killed and others were wounded," Xie Yong Hui, a Chinese embassy spokesman in Jakarta, said, his voice shaking with anger.

"We sent a strong note of disappointment to the Indonesian government and the navy," he said.

The damaged ship was towed to the nearest port of Meurake on Papua Island.

The three other fishing vessels escaped from the scene and Indonesian naval vessels in the area searched for them, Syaiful said.

The fire-on vessel was one of four Chinese-flagged ships accused of fishing without proper permits in the eastern Indonesian territory by the warship KRI Dalpele while it was patrolling on Monday.

"Everything was illegal," navy spokesman and First Admiral Malik Yusuf said. "They had no proper permit."

"Even their passports were expired," Yusuf said.

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