Gun­men kill 8 fish­er­men in Zam­boanga

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Eight Filipino fish­er­men were killed after at least five sus­pected pi­rates boarded a fish­ing boat in south­ern Philip­pine wa­ters and strafed the crew, of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

Seven other fish­er­men sur­vived Mon­day night’s at­tack in wa­ters near south­ern Zam­boanga City by jump­ing off the ves­sel as the gun­men started shoot­ing and swim­ming to­ward an is­land, said Lt. Com­man­der Alvin Da­galea.

Da­galea, com­man­der of Coast Guard sta­tion in Zam­boanga on Min­danao is­land, said some of the sur­vivors were res­cued by a pass­ing mo­tor­boat while oth­ers were found on the nearby is­land. Their boat, rid­dled with holes, sank.

Da­galea said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that the men were on a fish­ing trip when the armed men ap­proached on an­other boat and then boarded their ves­sel and or­dered them to go to the bow area.

“Then sud­denly the armed men strafed them,” he said.

He said the uniden­ti­fied gun­men could be pi­rates, while a mil­i­tary re­port said the mo­tives be­ing looked into in­clude ex­tor­tion or a grudge be­tween fish­ing groups.

Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants are sus­pected to be­ing be­hind a string of ship hi­jack­ings in the south­ern Philip­pine, and last week, coast guard and navy units foiled an at­tempt by sus­pect Abu Sayyaf gun­men to hi­jack a cargo ves­sel in nearby Basi­lan prov­ince.

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