Taiwan protests to Philippines after fisherman shot

Undated handout photo released by Liuqiu fishing committee on 10 May 2013 shows the Guang Ta Hsin 28 fishing vessel in Liuqiu Image copyright AFP
Image caption A crew of four were on board the Taiwanese vessel when it was fired on, Taipei said

Taiwan has demanded an explanation and apology from the Philippines after a fisherman was shot and killed in disputed waters.

The Philippine coastguard acknowledged that it had fired at the boat to "disable" its machinery.

"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," AFP quoted a spokesman as saying.

The incident occurred early on Thursday 170 miles (315 km) south of Taiwan, killing 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng.

Taiwan's coast guard sent vessels to the area - in waters both sides say lie within their 200-nautical-mile from shore exclusive economic zone - to aid the fishing crew.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin urged the Philippine government to "open a full investigation" into the shooting, which he condemned "strongly".

Philippine coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that the incident occurred within Philippine territory and that the officers had a duty to stop illegal fishing.

Taiwanese fishermen have been arrested in the area and detained by Philippine authorities in the past, but there have not been incidents of shootings in recent years, the BBC's Cindy Sui reports from Taipei.

Competing territorial claims in the South China Sea have raised regional tensions in recent months. China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei all have overlapping claims.

These disputes have existed for years but in recent months China has been taking a more assertive stance, leading to tensions with neighbours.

Last year, the Philippines and China became embroiled in a lengthy stand-off at the Scarborough shoal, which both claim. The stand-off ended after several weeks but ties between the two sides chilled significantly over the incident.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman also condemned the shooting and called for an investigation, a Xinhua news agency report said.

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