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North Korea 'opens fire' in Sea of Japan before 'forcibly' searching Russian crabbing boat

By The Siberian Times reporter
21 September 2013

Pyongyang coastguards 'grossly violated' international law but were they in search of food and cigarettes?

North Korean coast guards. File picture by the Huffington Post

The bizarre incident involved the 1,075 ton Altai fishing vessel sailing in international waters in the early hours is Saturday morning, en route from Zarubino in Russia to South Korea.

'The captain said his schooner was fired at from automatic weapons and with signal flares at 1:30 am Vladivostok time on Saturday without any radio or visual warning signals from a vessel flying the flag of North Korea,' said a statement from Alexander Savelyev, public relations chief of the Russian State Fisheries' Committee.

North Korean coastguards 'grossly violated the international law on maritime traffic', having failed to properly warn the Russian sailors of the inspection and instead resorting to immediate shooting, it was claimed. Sailors wearing military uniforms boarded the Altai and forcibly searched it' for around ten minutes, during which they questioned the captain, it is understood.

There were no injuries and the Altai was not damaged. Maritime expert Mikhail Voytenko said: 'No explanations by North Korea given. 

'Knowing the North Korean Coast Guard, one may assume, that the commander of the ship decided to prove his service zeal and commitment, reporting the incident to the authorities with all due comments and explanations. Or maybe, the North Korean Coast Guards simply wanted to get some food and cigarettes - one who knows their ways just cannot imagine them leaving a foreign vessel without some booty taken'. 

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