Pirates suspected in Vietnamese boat attacks

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Pirates are likely the perpetrators that attacked two Vietnamese boats, injuring two fishermen, while they were fishing in Malaysian waters under contracts last Sunday, VnExpress quoted a local official as saying.

Bui Phu Phu, deputy chief of Border Guards Headquarters in the central province of Quang Ngai, made the suggestion based on information provided by attacked fishermen who came back Wednesday, according to the newswire.

Nguyen Tan Luan, captain of one of the boats from Binh Son District, said when he and 14 crewmembers were looking for a fishing ground at waters between Malaysia and the Philippines, a wooden boat named Palawan approached their boat.

When it was tens of meters apart, a person on board raised a plastic container making a signal asking for oil.

"However, we observed that it wasn't a fishing boat. Feeling insecure, we ran away, but they chased after and fired at us continuously," Luan said.

Thirty minutes later the Vietnamese boat surrendered due to concerns that the boat would be sunk, according to the captain.

Le Quang Tu, one of his crewmembers, said he and Luan then got shot, adding that after they surrendered three people from the Palawan entered their boat with guns and other weapons.

They forced the fishermen to the prow before taking away 1,200 liters of diesel oil, holothurians and other devices worth nearly VND600 million (US$29,126) in total, according to Tu.

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After the other boat left, Vietnamese fishermen were saved by a Malaysian boat which helped send two injured to a Malaysian hospital.

That day the boat of Captain Tran Van Dung was also attacked with the same scheme.

Dung said they were robbed by five people with guns and other weapons, adding that the loss worth an estimated VND900 million ($43,689).

After checks on the boats and bullet traces, Quang Ngai's border guards said the two cases were probably caused by the same gang of pirates.

Phu said they will report the cases to local authorities so they ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and central agencies to cooperate with other countries in the Southeast Asia to guarantee the sea's security.

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