Vietnamese fishermen killed in West PH Sea encounter

Vietnamese fishermen found dead after run-in with Philippine Navy

Philippines assures Vietnam of 'fair' probe into fishermen's deaths

Philippine navy information officer Lieutenant Jose Covvarubias said the five Vietnamese, along with their two dead fellow fishermen, were turned over to Filipino police authorities after the early Saturday incident off Bolinao town in northwestern Pangasinan province.

The Bolinao police said in a report that the Vietnamese boat was one of six that had been spotted in the area, allegedly violating worldwide law by fishing in the Philippines's so-called exclusive economic zone. "In the ensuing chase, one of the Vietnamese boats initiated very risky maneuvers that resulted in it slamming into the left front and left center of the Philippine patrol vessel", said the DFA.

A Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) team from the Provincial Crime Laboratory Office in Lingayen, Pangasinan processed the Vietnamese fishing vessel where it was able to recover two deformed and fragmented fired bullet and one deformed and fragmented bullet jacket.

"The six fishing vessels fled but one manoeuvred and hit the Philippine navy ship, prompting its crew to fire warning shots during the commotion", the official said, adding that two Vietnamese fishermen were later found dead and five others were arrested.

An initial investigation identified the fishermen as Phan Van Liem and Le Van Peo, both 41, from Phu Yen Province in Vietnam.

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That would make it capable of reaching Israel and Saudi Arabia, CNN reported. "They are also working with North Korea", he added. It recently impose new sanctions against it for continuing with its missile program and tests.

The fishermen's bodies would undergo an autopsy, the report said.

"We would like to offer our sympathies over the unfortunate loss of life and give you our assurance that we will conduct a fair and thorough investigation into this matter", Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told Vietnam's deputy prime minister and foreign minister Pham Binh Minh, at the United Nations in New York, Manila's foreign ministry said Monday.

The DFA said those who were arrested "will be accorded proper treatment" and "can be accessed anytime" by Vietnamese embassy officials. Five other fishermen are in detention. Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims.

The report said the fishermen were forced to fight back when the Navy chased them, but full details have yet to be determined.

A Vietnamese embassy delegation visited the detained fishermen on Sunday afternoon.

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