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Philippines chases suspect Vietnamese boat from UN-protected reef

Published on Jun 10, 2013 4:59 PM

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippine Navy deployed a gunboat and a surveillance plane to a World Heritage-listed marine sanctuary after a suspected Vietnamese fishing vessel was seen there, authorities said on Monday.

The incident came a month after a Filipino coastguard vessel opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel near an island in the northern Philippines, killing a crew member and sparking a diplomatic row with Taiwan.

Marine rangers saw the small vessel at the remote Tubbataha Reef late on Saturday in the Sulu Sea in the far south of the country, and sought the navy's help after a failed chase, park superintendent Angelique Songco said.

"We suspect it was Vietnamese but we didn't catch anyone," she told AFP by telephone. "It was dark and they turned off their lights. They had one light on the rear but when they saw our boat coming, they turned it off and ran."

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