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Philippine plane fired upon over Spratlys (05 Sep 02)

A Philippine military reconnaissance plane was fired upon while flying over a Vietnamese-occupied island among the disputed Spratlys chain in the South China Sea, a confidential armed forces report said

Two Philippine OV-10 planes were flying about 305 m over Pugad island on Saturday when Philippine troops at a nearby island heard a shot ring out, the report said.

This prompted the military commanders to order the planes not to fly over the island again. The report did not say who fired the shot or if any damage was caused.

Pugad island lies west of the vast Philippine archipelago and is occupied by Vietnam.

The Spratlys is a chain of islands, reefs and shoals which are believed to sit atop oil and natural gas deposits.

They are claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam as well as Brunei, China, Taiwan and Malaysia. All claimants but Brunei have troops based on the islands.

The shooting occurred about two weeks before Chinese parliament chief Li Peng is to visit the Philippines for talks that are expected to include the Spratlys issue on the agenda.