Indonesian navy denies shooting Chinese fisherman

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Western Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Achmad Taufiqoerrohman denied claims that Indonesian authorities had shot a Chinese fisherman while detaining a Chinese fishing vessel and its seven crew in Natuna waters, Riau Islands, last Friday.

"It is not true that a person was shot. Please check in Natuna, the seven people are healthy, and no one was shot," he informed the press here, Tuesday.

Indonesian warship KRI Imam Bonjol had only fired a warning shot in the air, and the fishing boat Han Tan Cou 19038, captained by Hon Cing Hong, ignored it and continued to sail away from the Indonesian naval ship.

The Navy then fired another warning shot, aiming at the waters in front of the fishing boat, to make a splash, after which it stopped.

The shots were fired in accordance with the procedures and the international and national laws, he affirmed.

The incident began when the Indonesian patrol boat spotted a group of Chinese vessels in the countrys exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Natuna waters.

"The vessels were sailing in a group. Hence, we (monitored them) by using an aircraft and found suspicious contacts. We checked and found several Chinese vessels," Taufiq explained.

One of the 12 Chinese fishing vessels was detained for poaching in the Natuna waters, while 11 others, which had not cast their fishing nets, fled.

"We confiscated one vessel as it had cast its net. Therefore, I said if (they) did not poach, there would be no problem. A warship is also allowed to pass the waters as long as it does not poach," he clarified.

The Chinese foreign ministrys spokesman remarked on Sunday that several Indonesian naval ships had opened fire on Chinese fishing vessels, injuring a Chinese fisherman in what it called a "traditional Chinese fishing ground."

"China strongly protests and condemns such excessive use of force," according to the Chinese foreign ministrys spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, in Beijing.

"China urges Indonesia to stop taking action that escalates tension, complicates issues, or affects peace and stability," Chunying stated.

Indonesia does not recognize what China claims as a "traditional Chinese fishing ground" in the countrys EEZ in the Natuna waters.

(f001/INE/B003)

EDITED BY INE.

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