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South China Sea

Vietnam expands maritime militia off southern coast

New squadron of ships, platoons and light weapons debuts in sovereignty assertion

HANOI -- Vietnam has taken a new step to bolster its maritime presence as territorial tensions rise in the South China Sea.

Vietnam launched a new squadron -- the Permanent Maritime Militia Unit -- on Wednesday in Kien Giang, the country's southwesternmost province. It consists of nine ships and platoons equipped with light weapons trained to carry out paramilitary work with support from the country's Naval Academy and Naval Technical College.

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