China protests Viet attack on fleet of fishing vessels

Vietnamese gunboats attacked a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels, blowing one out of the water and setting two others on fire, China said.

Eighteen people aboard the destroyed Chinese boat were missing and at least six others on another boat were injured in the March 3 incident, the Foreign Ministry said in a ''strong protest'' to Hanoi. A third Chinese vessel was set on fire by Vietnamese gunfire and then seized, the ministry said in the protest broadcast on official radio and television.

The ministry said the attack occurred ''on the open sea'' between the southwestern coast of Hainan island and the shoreline of Vietnam.

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