Kampot provincial officials claimed on Wednesday that a Vietnamese naval vessel entered Cambodian waters last week to apprehend a Cambodian ship which had earlier crossed Vietnam’s maritime border.
The Cambodian ship and three crew members were escorted back to port in Vietnam and detained for two days while provincial officials in Kampot organized their release.
Kampot deputy police chief In Chiva said on Wednesday the Cambodian ship was carrying a cargo of foodstuff from Thailand to Cambodia but was blown by high seas over the Vietnamese boundary.
“After we received the news that the Vietnamese chased the boat into Cambodian waters, the police and navy went to intervene,” In Chiva said.
“At that time our navy and marine police were not in the location. When they arrived the Vietnamese had already taken the boat back to their port,” he said.
In Chiva said it is common for Vietnamese naval and fishing boats to enter Cambodian waters but often there are severe repercussions when Cambodian vessels do the same.
Kampot Governor Puth Chandarith said the Cambodian boat strayed around one-half of a kilometer into Vietnamese waters, but the navy’s response vessel went deeper into Cambodian territory to make their arrest.
Vietnam’s Ambassador to Cambodia Nguyen Duy Hung said he was unaware of the incident but said he did not believe the Vietnamese navy entered Cambodian waters.
Coastal waters off Kampot province—which is directly opposite the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc—have been plagued by pirates, armed robberies and illegal fishing, Nguyen Duy Hung said.
A Cambodian man was killed and three others arrested in May by the Vietnamese coast guard who claimed the men—armed with automatic rifles and an M-79 grenade launcher—opened fire on their boat, The Associated Press reported.
Vietnamese officials claimed the Cambodians had earlier attacked fishermen off Phu Quoc island.
In the first six months of 2002, Vietnamese fishermen working near the Cambodian border reported 23 separate pirate attack on 45 vessels. The pirates made off with $25,000 worth of fishing equipment and other valuables, Agence France-Presse reported.