• AFP-JIJI

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The Russian border guard service said Friday it had to fire warning shots to detain a Japanese boat for “illegal” crab fishing off Sakhalin Island.

The boat was detained in the country’s “exclusive economic zone in the Okhotsk Sea,” the border guard service said in a statement carried by Russia’s Interfax and TASS news agencies.

The boat crew initially sought to escape and the Russian boarder guards had to fire warning shots, the statement said. Once detained, the boat was taken to the south Sakhalin port of Korsakov.

The incident came after a Japanese fishing boat collided with a Russian ship off Hokkaido on Wednesday, killing three crew members.

The Japan Coast Guard was informed that five crew members from the fishing boat were recovered by a Russian cargo ship, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Japan and Russia are locked in a sovereignty dispute over four islands controlled by Moscow, which refers to them as the southern Kurils.

Tokyo claims the islands, which it calls the Northern Territories, and the dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty since World War II.

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