Vietnamese fishermen return home after pirate attack

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The fourteen Vietnamese fishermen that came under attack from pirates in the border waters between the Philippines and Malaysia returned home to the central province of Quang Ngai, on Tuesday.

Two of the men were still nursing injuries they sustained when a vessel of undetermined origin attacked and robbed them on May 15.

The crew were fishing when a wooden boat named Palawan approached them from the opposite direction.

Captain Nguyen Tan Luan, 38, said a man on the deck of the Palawan signaled to him to stop by raising an oil can above his head.

When Luan didn't see any other crew members on the boat, he decided to head away from the boat.

The Palawan gave chase and four men aboard the ship began firing rifles at the Vietnamese crew.

Twelve of the crew rushed into the engine hold to hide. Captain Luan and one of his crewmen couldn't move fast enough and were caught in the hail of bullets.

After a half hour chase, Luan decided to stop the boat.

Three men dressed in plainclothes boarded their ship from the Palawan, carrying knives.

They searched the boat for two hours and left with 1,200 liters of diesel fuel, the catch (dried and fresh sea cucumber), 12 mobile phones, 1,000 US dollars and 1,000 Malaysian ringgit ($326).

After the Palawan departed, a friendly Malay fishing boat stopped and brought the injured fishermen to a hospital in Malaysia.

The two injured fishermen had recovered from their injuries after four days in the hospital.

On May 15, another Vietnamese fishing boat was attacked by an unidentified boat travelling in the same waters, just several hours before the attack in Luan's boat.

Captain Tran Van Dung, 38 (also from Quang Ngai Province) said his boat was resting on the waters when the unidentified vessel approached.

Four men in plain clothes jumped boarded his ship carying rifles and a scimitar.

The pirates signalled the Dung's crew to get onto the boat's cape and searched the boat for two hours.

They left with 1,200 liters of diesel fuel, 300 kilograms of sea cucumber, mobile phones and other valuables.

After the pirates left, a Vietnamese crew helped tow them back home. They returned to Quang Ngai, last Saturday.

Dung said he'd had a contract to fish for sea cucumber in Malaysian waters since 2008.

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