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Armed skirmishes on the border between China and Vietnam...

PEKING -- Armed skirmishes on the border between China and Vietnam have intensified and Peking protested strongly to Hanoi today over a series of bloody incidents that killed more than five people.

The foreign ministry warned the Vietnamese in a protest note that 'it will be absolutely impossible' for them to escape punishment for the 'provocations and intrusions.'

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Seven major incidents have erupted on the Sino-Vietnam border since the end of last month and the Chinese protest said the Vietnamese attacks 'pose a grave threat' to China's borders.

The Chinese note indicated a sizeable battle was fought Wednesday in Maguan county, Yunnan province.

It said Vietnamese troops 'flagrantly launched an attack on the positions of Chinese frontier troops in the Luojiaping area' of the county.

'The Chinese frontier troops were forced to counterattack and give the intruders due punishment,' it said. No casualty figure was given in this particular incident.

The foreign ministry called the fighting at Maguan serious. Maguan is about 20 miles from the nearest point on the border.

'Dozens' of armed Vietnamese troops swarmed across the disputed border Sept. 30 and 'launched a surprise attack on the patrolling Chinese frontier guards and militiamen, killing three and wounding three,' it said.

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The Vietnamese attacked again the following day _ China's national day _ and killed or wounded an unspecified number of Chinese peasants caught off guard on a holiday, the note said.

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