RANONG: Two officers of the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Fleet were killed last Saturday during a midday firefight between their surveillance vessel and an unidentified fishing boat in Thai territorial waters off the coast of Ranong province. Petty Officer First Class Chalermsak Jeenprakom and Petty Officer Third Class Amorn Panlert died of bullet wounds when the navy patrol boat Tor 98 came under machine gun fire from the fishing boat, Captain Montree Rawtwiset, Vice Director of Third Fleet Tactical Operations, told the Gazette. The navy surveillance vessel had approached the fishing boat approximately three nautical miles off Kom Island at around noon following a radio report from a Thai fishing trawler that its nets had been cut by the crew of the unidentified boat. The Tor 98 was about 1,000 yards from the suspect boat and had signalled its intention to board when it was fired on. Captain Montree reported that the crew of the Tor 98 returned fire and that the unidentified boat fled to Burmese waters. Authorities were unable to ascertain the nationalities of the crew members of the fishing boat, or if any of those on board were injured or killed. Vice Admiral Somphop Bhuridej, Commander of the Third Fleet, attended funeral rites for the two dead officers today in Nakhon Pathom.
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