Anchor: The South Korean Coast Guard fired hundreds of rounds from a machine gun as Chinese boats illegally fishing again violently resisted a crackdown. The coast guard vessels were surrounded by some 30 100-ton boats to try to release two arrested Chinese fishing boats. It was the first time that the coast guard used a machine gun against the violent illegal boats after its manual on weapons use was revised last month.
Kim Bum-soo has more.
Report: [Sound bite: audio footage from Central Coast Guard crackdown operation (around 17:00 / Nov. 1)]
It was around 5 p.m. Tuesday when the Korea Coast Guard spotted Chinese fishing vessels illegally operating in Korean waters.
A three-thousand ton patrol ship and four other coast guard boats were sent immediately to the waters some 90 kilometers southwest of Socheong Island off the western coast to arrest fishing vessels in the prohibited area near the inter-Korean maritime border.
[Sound bite: audio footage from Central Coast Guard crackdown operation (Nov. 1)]
"Right side! Chinese vessel approaching! left side! Collision course! Collision course!"
But as the detained Chinese fishing boats were being transported, some 30 other 100-ton steel fishing boats surrounded the South Korean coast guard ships as an intimidation to free the boats in custody. One of them collided into a coast guard vessel.
The South Korean maritime police fired 670 rounds of its M-60 machine gun as the Chinese vessels didn't budge following initial warning shots.
[Sound bite: Audio recording of M-60 firing during Central Coast Guard crackdown operation (18:47 Nov. 1)]
"Fire at the wheelhouse! Fire at the wheelhouse!"
The damage inflicted on the Chinese ships is unknown as they fled the scene.
Maritime police officials told KBS that coast guard officers were on board the arrested illegal Chinese vessels and their safety could have been at risk if police vessels were pushed away by the Chinese boats.
[Sound bite: a Coast Guard official (Korean)]
"As we were holding the captured boats, some 30 of them attacked us. We dispelled them with the machine gun..."
Last month, a South Korean coast guard vessel sank after it was intentionally rear-ended by a Chinese fishing boat during a crackdown operation on illegal fishing.
The Korea Coast Guard then revised its regulations to allow the active use of firearms and heavier artillery against violent illegal Chinese fishing boats.
Tuesday's crackdown operation marked the first time that the maritime police implemented the revised regulations.
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.
Source: KBS World Radio