China coast guard boards Filipino navy vessels, seizes guns in South China Sea, says Philippine military | World News - Hindustan Times
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China coast guard boards Filipino navy vessels, seizes guns in South China Sea, says Philippine military

AFP |
Jun 19, 2024 12:25 PM IST

Philippine military chief General Romeo Brawner alleged the Chinese boarders were armed with swords, spears, and knives.

The Philippine military said Wednesday that the Chinese coast guard rammed and boarded Filipino navy boats and seized their guns in the South China Sea this week in a confrontation that saw a Filipino sailor lose a thumb.

The Chinese coast guard later "deliberately punctured" the Filipino boats, Philippine said. (Reuters/File)
The Chinese coast guard later "deliberately punctured" the Filipino boats, Philippine said. (Reuters/File)

The incident off Second Thomas Shoal, which hosts a tiny Philippine garrison stationed on a deliberately beached old warship, is the latest in a series of escalating confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships in recent months as Beijing steps up efforts to push its claims to the disputed area.

"The Chinese Coast Guard personnel illegally embarked on our RHIBS (rigid-hulled inflatable boats)," Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres told reporters in the first official Filipino account of the confrontation.

Read Here: US warns ‘aggressive’ China over latest confrontation with Philippines in disputed sea

"They got some (guns)," said Torres, adding the firearms had been stored in the boats crewed by Filipino sailors, who were under orders not to display their weapons in Monday's confrontation.

The Chinese coast guard later "deliberately punctured" the Filipino boats, he said.

Philippine military chief General Romeo Brawner alleged the Chinese boarders were armed with swords, spears, and knives.

"This is the first time that we saw the Chinese coast guard carry bolos (a type of single-edged sword), spears, and knives. Our troops had none of those," Brawner told reporters.

Brawner said the seized guns were intended for Filipino troops manning the BRP Sierra Madre warship on the shoal.

"We fought back with our bare hands," Brawner said, noting the Filipino sailors were "outnumbered" by the Chinese coast guard contingent that comprised eight boats.

‘Illegally rammed’

The Second Thomas Shoal lies about 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometres from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island.

Read Here: China coast guard says Philippine supply ship bumped Chinese ship in South China Sea

Beijing claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, brushing aside competing claims from several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines and an international ruling that its stance has no legal basis.

It deploys coast guard and other boats to patrol the waters and has turned several reefs into militarised artificial islands.

It has in recent months stepped up moves against Philippine vessels in the area around Second Thomas Shoal.

Speaking to reporters from Palawan -- the major land mass closest to the shoal -- Torres said the latest confrontation began when one of the Filipino boats was "illegally rammed" at "high speed" by a Chinese coast guard boat.

A Filipino Naval Special Operations Group member aboard the Filipino boat lost a thumb when the Chinese vessel landed on top of the bow, he added.

Brawner also flew to Palawan on Wednesday to visit the injured soldier, the military said.

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