FOUR VIETNAMESE fisherman were shot and wounded by Indonesia’s navy over the weekend, authorities said on Monday, the latest clash to erupt over fishing in the hotly disputed South China Sea.

The Vietnamese fishing vessel, which had six sailors on board, was fired at late Saturday, according to an online report by the disaster and relief agency of Vietnam’s central Binh Dinh province.

The boat was led back to Vietnam’s Con Dao island early Monday morning and the wounded men were rushed to hospital.

“Two seriously injured sailors were sent to the Con Dao district’s medical centre and their situation is improving,” the report added.

The two others sustained lighter injuries.

Indonesian and Vietnamese vessels have previously clashed in the South China Sea, which multiple Southeast Asian countries as well as China and Taiwan have competing claims over.

In May trawlers from the two nations clashed after the Indonesian coast guard briefly captured Vietnamese fishing boats allegedly operating illegally in its waters.

Jakarta has detained 11 Vietnamese sailors following the confrontation around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, while one member of its own coast guard is still being held by Hanoi.

Both sides then said they had agreed to resolve the incident through diplomatic channels, hoping to prevent further future incidents. — AFP