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Chinese fishermen held over assault on local crew

Police in Sierra Leone have questioned 22 Chinese fishermen over accusations they assaulted eight local crew members on their boat.A police spokesman said the men had been attacked with machetes and knives while working aboard the ship.

Some of the men were badly wounded and were brought to Connaught Hospital in Freetown.

The local fishermen are employed by Sierra Fishing, one of the largest fishing companies in the west African country. It is one of many local companies that work in partnership with Chinese operations.

Bassem Mohamed, the managing director of Sierra Fishing, told RFI that there were sometimes communication problems between Chinese and local staff. However, he said that this was the most serious incident he had experienced in three years of working along with the Chinese company.

“As soon as we got word of this, we told the police to arrest the Chinese immediately because it’s not acceptable,” he said.

He said Sierra Fishing have compensated the injured men and that the owner of the Chinese company may also be following the matter up.

“I think he’s taking action against the crew,” Mohamed said. “I’m sure some of them will be repatriated back to China.”