BEIJING (Reuters) - Contact has been lost with 11 fishermen in the South China Sea after they were intercepted by "armed men", China's state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
They were on board the fishing boat Qiongqionghai 09063, which was "intercepted by an unidentified armed vessel at about 10 a.m. in waters off" the Spratly Islands, Xinhua said, citing a fishing association in Qionghai on China's southern island province of Hainan.
It provided no other details and Reuters was not immediately able to reach officials in Hainan for comment. It was also not clear from the report if the fishermen were Chinese nationals.
China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts or all of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
There are frequent tensions in the South China Sea between China and the other claimant nations, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which say Beijing has harassed their ships in the waters there.
On Tuesday, China warned Vietnam not to disturb activities of Chinese companies operating near disputed islands in the South China Sea, after Hanoi condemned as illegal the movement of a giant Chinese oil rig into what it says is its territorial water.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)