TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan has demanded an explanation from Indonesia after two of its fishing boats were allegedly fired on by an Indonesia government vessel near the Strait of Malacca.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it called in an Indonesian representative in Taipei on Tuesday to express its concern over the incident earlier this week involving the vessels Sheng Te Tsai and Lien I Hsing No. 116, whose home port is in southern Taiwan.
A ministry statement condemned the use of force and asked for evidence of any claims of wrongdoing by the Taiwanese boats that could justify the shooting.
“And we require that the Indonesian government respond speedily to our statement as to why our fishing boats fired on the cockpits of our fishing boats,” the statement said.
There was no immediate response from Indonesia government officials in Jakarta.
Associated Press journalists witnessed the two tuna longliners docked at Singapore’s Jurong Fishery Port on Thursday but were not allowed to approach. Crew members were seen on deck, some of them speaking by phone. The Singapore newspaper Straits Times said the two captains and their 25 crewmembers were tired but in good condition.
The Sheng Te Tsai’s captain Lin Nan-yang told the newspaper that the early Monday morning shooting occurred without warning and he was unable to understand what the Indonesian crew was saying over the radio.
“Out of nowhere a boat appeared from behind and shown a bright light. Then we heard the sound of gunshots,” said Lin in video footage shot by the newspaper.
Taiwanese media reported the crew was unharmed but that the Sheng Te Tsai was hit by more than 10 bullets.
Violent incidents at sea are common in the area known for both piracy and clashes between vessels whose governments claim various parts of the disputed South China Sea just east of the Malacca Strait.
On Saturday, an Indonesian Fisheries Ministry patrol ship intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel off Natuna islands, which overlap the southernmost reaches of the South China Sea, according to Indonesian officials. A Chinese coast guard vessel collided with the fishing boat, the Kway Fey, as it was being towed, allowing it to escape.
Indonesia has refused Chinese demands that it release eight fishermen arrested for illegal fishing in a growing confrontation that analysts say dispels the idea that Indonesia has no stake in South China Sea disputes.
Indonesia has accused China of sharply raising tensions by retrieving the seized boat.
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