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North Korea fisherman dies in Russian custody

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korean fishermen clashed with Russia border authorities at sea this week, according to Russian press reports. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korean fishermen clashed with Russia border authorities at sea this week, according to Russian press reports. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A North Korean fisherman died in Russian custody following clashes with Russian border guards at sea.

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, or FSB, said six North Korean fishermen in Russian detention showed various degrees of injury after resisting arrest. One man died from his wounds, Russia's Interfax news agency reported Friday.

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The statement from Russia comes after authorities said they detained 161 fishermen, who were later transferred to Nakhodka, in southern Primorsky Krai, according to Russian news agency Tass.

The North Koreans are charged with illegal fishing in Russia's exclusive economic zone, or EEZ.

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Some of the fishermen were on two large ships at the time of their arrest, and others were on board 11 smaller fishing vessels. Clashes took place when Russian guards confronted the boats at Quito-Yamato Bank, which Russia claims as part of its territorial waters.

The crew of six North Koreans who were seriously injured during clashes with Russian border guards are to be investigated on their boat in the presence of a North Korean diplomat based in the Russian city of Vladivostok, Russian border authorities said.

Russia said its border security agency suffered casualties. A total of four Russians were wounded while fending off "armed attacks" from the North Koreans. Under Russia's criminal law, the North Korean crew is being charged with the harassment of law enforcement, according to Interfax.

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If found guilty, the North Korean crew could face 12 years of imprisonment in Russia, according to local reports.

Russia's foreign ministry has "strongly protested" the incident with the North Korean embassy in Moscow.

The arrests began on Tuesday at the Quito-Yamato Bank.

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In July North Korea detained a Russian fishing vessel. The Russia-flagged Xiang Hai Lin-8 left from the South Korean port city of Sokcho July 16 and was headed to Zarubino, a port in the Russian Far East, when it was apprehended in the East Sea.

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