Taiwan protests to Philippines over fisherman's death

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan demanded compensation from the Philippines on Thursday over the killing of a crew member of a Taiwanese fishing trawler which allegedly came under fire from a Philippine government boat.

The Guang Ta Hsin 28 fishing vessel carrying four crew members - three Taiwanese and one Indonesian - was fired on early on Thursday some 164 nautical miles off the southernmost tip of the island, Taiwan's foreign ministry said.

The incident killed 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng and badly damaged the vessel, prompting Taiwan's coastguard to dispatch a ship to its rescue, the ministry said.

"We strongly protest and condemn that a Philippine government boat attacked our fishing boat and demand the Philippines formally apologise, apprehend the murderer and compensate," it said in a statement.

The ministry did not specify what type of a government boat it was, while Taiwan's coastguard said it was trying to verify some reports claiming that it was a Philippine navy vessel.

Taiwan has ruled itself since 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory. The Philippines, like most countries, officially recognises China over Taiwan but maintains trade ties with the island.