Troops search for abducted Vietnamese sailors

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page -

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Army soldiers are searching for 6Vietnamese sailors abducted by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels off the southern Filipino province of Basilan.

One Vietnamese sailor was also shot and wounded by the gunmen who hijacked his cargo ship, MV Royal 16, near Sibago Island and is currently undergoing medical treatment at a private hospital here, police said.

Police said Lai Minh Kao was admitted at the Brent Hospital and is being cared by another vietnamese sailor Pham Van Trong. But police said the head of the Bureau on Immigration, Albert Abanila, allegedly prevented its investigators from getting information from Kao.

“The head of (the Bureau of) Immigration identified as Mr. Albert Abanila prohibited the CIS member to conduct interview with the victim,” said Senior Superintendent Michael Nicolas, the regional police spokesman.

It was not immediately known why Abanila prevented the local police from investigating the wounded seaman.

The cargo shipwas hijacked on November 11 by ten gunmen on a speedbo and seized the crewmen – Do Trung Hieu, Hoang Vo, Tran Khac Dung, Huang Trung Thong and Huang Van Hai – including its captain, Pham Min Tuan.

The wounded sailor was rescued by a passing Filipino ship, MV Iloilo Lorcon, and brought to Zamboanga City. The Vietnamese ship was heading carrying cement and heading for Davao City when it was hijacked.

“The victim is presently undergoing medical treatment with a companion identified as Pham Van Trong, also a Vietnamese, at above mentioned hospital. Suspects fled after the incident to include some of the crew members of Royal 16 vessel they took hostage,” Nicolas said.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but suspicion fell heavily on the notorious Abu Sayyaf group which is still holding over a dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors, including a German yachter kidnapped recently in Sabah, Malaysia.

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