The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking into a shooting incident that occurred Sunday in which the skipper of a Taiwan fishing vessel was killed by unknown gunmen in waters near the northern Philippine island of Luzon, MOFA spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday.
Lu said the foreign ministry contacted its connections in the Philippines immediately after learning that the skipper of the Taitung-based fishing boat Manchunyi was shot and killed and his younger brother, also the first mate, seriously wounded after their vessel was ambushed by six men, clad in clothes that looked like military uniforms, from an unidentified boat that emerged from Philippine waters near the Babuyan Islands.
MOFA officials were told that the Philippine navy and coast guard authorities had "a day off Sunday" due to treacherous sea conditions.
Philippine authorities had expressed surprise on learning of the shooting, Lu said.
The Manchunyi crew's attackers could have been pirates or smugglers wearing fake military uniforms, Lu said, adding that nothing would be certain until more information was received.
The body of Manchunyi skipper Chen An-lao, 67, remained aboard the vessel, which was towed back to Taitung's Hsinkang fishing port later yesterday.
The first mate, Chen Ming-teh, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his thigh and was taken by a Coast Guard Administration patrol boat to Lanyu off the coast of Taitung late Sunday before being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Kaohsiung.
According to Chen Ming-teh, the assailants looked like military men, but their boat was not a Philippine navy or coast guard vessel. The attackers also made away with most of the fishing boats catch and fishing gear, he said.
Chen Ming-teh, was now in a stable condition, although was he was to remain in hospital for further observation, it was reported.
Meanwhile, CGA authorities said they will interview the two Chinese crew members working aboard the Manchunyi to gain a better understanding of the facts surrounding the shooting. Neither was injured in the incident.
Taitung District Prosecutors Office's Chief Prosecutor Chiang Wen-chun said that the preliminary explanation was that of murder by international pirates. According to Taiwan's criminal law, Chiang added, Taiwan has authority over the country's vessels or aircraft outside of its territory.
Four of the suspects were in civilian clothes, while the other two wore military uniform, and the suspects began shooting before getting on board and plundering the vessel, Chiang noted.
At least 22 bullet holes were found on the fishing vessel, the prosecutor added.
The Prosecutors Office has said it will join forces with the MOFA, the CGA, and the Ministry of Justice to carry out an international investigation into this case.