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Missile drills scaled down after fishermen protest

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's military decided to postpone a scheduled missile drill in southeastern Taiwan late on Wednesday amid a round of protests launched by fishermen in Pingtung county (屏東縣) earlier the same day. The fishermen say the drills are depleting marine resources in seas near the drill ground.

Military sources told the Central News Agency late on Wednesday that the Navy Command Headquarters was originally set to kick off a ten-day-live fire exercise on Wednesday in waters near Jiupeng Base (九鵬基地).

However, a round of protests launched by Henchun District Fishermen's Association in Pingtung County (恆春區漁會) that sent 30 rubber rafts into waters near Jiupeng Base, within the missile testing range, forced the military to temporarily postpone the scheduled drills, the source said.

Fishermen said the protest was launched to safeguard their traditional fishing ground as yearlong drills have depleted their hauls in the area.

Jiupeng Base is Taiwan's major center for military missile tests and live-fire drills with an average of 30 live missile firings conducted every year.

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This photo shows the entrenchment where a mortar was placed in Pingtung, yesterday. Taiwan's military decided to postpone a scheduled missile drill in southeastern Taiwan late on Wednesday amid a round of protests launched by fishermen in Pingtung county earlier the same day. The fishermen say the drills are depleting marine resources near the drill ground (CNA)

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