Six Cambodian nationals, including two border police and two fisheries officials, were temporarily detained by Vietnamese authorities over the weekend after a Vietnamese patrol allegedly entered Cambodian waters and took their vessel by force, officials said Monday.
The six included fisheries officials Ly Seila and Prak Sovann, border policemen Kao Man and Dol Chhean, boat driver Sim Phan and boat worker Em Chantha, the chief of Kampot province’s fishery department Song Lon and provincial Deputy Governor Run Chandarith said Tuesday.
The incident reportedly took place around 5 pm Saturday after the Cambodian vessel chased a Vietnamese boat that was seen netting fish near Kampot province’s Kro Ngor Island, about 5 km into Cambodian waters. The patrol boat gave chase but was forced to break off when the fishing boat crossed the maritime border with Vietnam, Song Lon said.
The Cambodian vessel had retreated about 5 km or 6 km back inside Cambodian waters when a Vietnamese naval vessel approached them and fired machine gun salvos into the air. The Cambodians were then arrested, handcuffed and taken to Vietnam’s Kien Giang province, Song Lon said. They were released on Sunday evening.
The fisheries officials and border police alleged that they were beaten, Song Lon said.
“We arrest about 100 or 200 Vietnamese nationals fishing illegally in Cambodian waters every year,” he said. “We never torture or handcuff them. We give them food and take care of them. We respect their human rights” according to an agreement signed between the adjacent provinces governing the repatriation of fisheries workers, he said.
Run Chandarith said Tuesday that a meeting was held in Kampot to prepare a report on the incident for the Interior Ministry and that a complaint was filed with the governor of Kien Giang province.
“Their provocative act against our officials is a violation of the agreement,” Run Chandarith said.
Officials at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.