SEOUL, May 1 (UPI) -- South Korea's coast guard impounded a Chinese fishing vessel after four officials were injured in a scuffle while attempting to board the ship.
The confrontation happened at 2:30 a.m. Monday about 45 miles northwest of Heuksan Island, a report by the South Korean news agency Yonhap said.
Coast guard officials suspected the Chinese of fishing in South Korean waters and moved to stop the 227-ton ship.
One of the four South Korean officials inured fell into the sea after being hit with a blunt instrument, Yonhap said. He was rescued by a coast guard boat.
Three officials sustained injuries to their heads, arms and legs in the attack by the Chinese fishermen who wielded knives and scythes during a standoff that lasted for more than two hours.
The South Korean injured were flown by helicopter to a hospital in the coastal city of Mokpo, about 250 miles south of Seoul.
Coast guard officials said nine Chinese sailors were detained and were being questioned.
The four injured officials work for the West Sea Fisheries Supervision Office, which is affiliated with the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Around 3,000 people live on the 8-square-mile mountainous Heuksan Island in the Yellow Sea between South Korea and mainland China, an area heavily patrolled by the South Korean coast guard on the lookout for illegal fishing.
The latest confrontation between South Korean and Chinese vessels comes after the sentencing in a South Korean court last month of a Chinese fisherman accused of stabbing to death a coast guard sailor, also in the Yellow Sea.
The Incheon District Court sentenced captain Cheng Dawei, 43, to 30 years in jail and fined him nearly $17,600 for the killing in December that happened when coast guard officials attempted to board his ship.
The incident had reignited public anger at Chinese fishermen's use of violence against South Korean coast guard officers, Yonhap reported.
The court sentenced eight other Chinese fishermen from the same vessel to prison terms ranging from 1 1/2-5 years for obstructing coast guard officers, Yonhap said.
The fishing issue has increased tensions between the two countries which last month agreed to coordinate their efforts to avoid clashes in coastal waters.
China often disputes maritime jurisdiction with its neighbors, including Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
The accord with South Korea included an agreement Chinese boats will record fishing logs using Global Positioning System technology while fishing near South Korea's exclusive economic zone.