Malaysia said on Monday that a Vietnamese fisherman died from gunshot wounds after a confrontation broke out when the country’s coast guard sought to inspect two boats they believed were illegally fishing.
In a statement, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said 19 Vietnamese fishermen had been on board the boats, accusing them of pelting the enforcement ship with hard objects, as well as flammable items, before eventually ramming it.
The statement said that incident took place in waters off Kelantan state and that coast guard officers onboard had responded by firing in self-defense, wounding one man who later died.
The 18 other crew members had been detained and would be investigated for various offences, including illegal fishing, illegal entry and attempted murder, the statement said.
Countries bordering the South China Sea have been frequently embroiled in disputes over fishing rights, which sometimes turn violent.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Khanh Vu in Hanoi; Editing by Ed Davies)