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Taiwan asks for investigation, apology for fisherman's death

May 10, 2013 at 1:51 PM

TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 10 (UPI) -- Taiwanese officials Friday called for an investigation into the death of a fisherman killed when his boat was fired on by a Philippines coast guard vessel.

"We demand the Philippines investigate and clarify the truth, to apologize, apprehend the killer and compensate," Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said.

The incident occurred Thursday morning between the northern tip of the Philippines and the southern coast of Taiwan when a Philippines coast guard surveillance vessel encountered four Taiwanese fishing boats in an area the Philippines considers an exclusive economic zone, the coast guard said in a statement.

The statement said one of the Taiwanese boats allegedly tried to ram the coast guard vessel as officers attempted to board the fishing boats, The New York Times reported.

The surveillance vessel fired warning shots at the fishing boat and shot at the engine and propeller of the fishing ship to disable it, the statement said.

A crew member from one of the Taiwanese boats said the Philippines vessel shot at a fuel tank, resulting in the death of the 65-year-old fisherman.

Taiwanese officials have disputed the Philippines' account of the incident, questioning the timing of the incident and whether a Taiwanese fishing vessel had tried to ram the Philippine vessel.

"We urge the Philippine government to open a full investigation on this case and send their apology to Taiwan's government," Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lin said.

Meanwhile, Philippines coast guard Cmdr. Armand Balilo said Friday the coast guard officers acted lawfully because the Taiwanese boats were in Philippine waters.

"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," Balilo said.

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