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Chinese fisherman killed by South Korean coast guard

A Chinese fisherman has died after being hit by a rubber bullet during a confrontation with the South Korean coast guard, officials said.

South Korea's coast guard seized 30 ships suspected of illegal fishing Tuesday near Hongdo Island off the coast of south-western South Korea, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

A 44-year-old fisherman was hit with a rubber bullet when coast guards tried to subdue him. He was reportedly using knives and a scythe during the exchange.

The fisherman was rushed to a hospital in the port of Mokpo, but died of his injuries.

The South Korean foreign ministry said it informed the Chinese embassy about the death, and expressed regret over the "unfortunate" event, sending condolences to the family.

"We believe a rubber bullet hit his chest during a raid by coast guard commandos to stop illegal fishing," a coast guard spokesman told the AFP news agency.

"Coast guard officers used rubber bullets to control the Chinese sailors who brandished knives and other deadly weapons," the spokesman said.

The Chinese embassy in Seoul expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with South Korea over the incident, according to state media agency Xinhua. It asked for an investigation into the affair to assure such cases do not happen again.

Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, with hundreds of vessels seized annually.

Last December, a South Korean coast guard officer was stabbed to by a Chinese fisherman during a raid.

dr/rc (AFP, dpa, AP)