Search on for abducted crew of Vietnamese cargo ship
TAWI-TAWI – Security forces launched an operation to search and rescue 6 crew members of a Vietnamese freighter abducted by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels.
Officials said rebels hijacked the cargo ship off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-tawi and abducted the sailors and killed one crew member before escaping to the open sea.
Security forces also rescued 17 Vietnamese crewmen of MV Giang Hai and brought them to the nearest dock in Taganak Island.
In January, a group of Abu Sayyaf rebels tried, but failed to hijack a Filipino cargo ship while sailing off Basilan province also in southern Philippines. The gunmen, on board two speedboats, attacked the vessel Ocean Kingdom – manned by over 2 dozen sailors – off Sibago Island while heading to Davao City to deliver its cargo.
Security forces, alerted by the attack, rushed to the area and secured the cargo boat owned by Oceanic Shipping Lines. It was the second cargo ship attacked by rebels off Basilan since last year. Abu Sayyaf fighters also hijacked a Vietnamese cargo ship and seized 6 crewmen, including its captain in a daring attack on November 11 that left one sailor wounded.
The ship, MV Royal 16, was sailing off the province when 10 gunmen on a speedboat intercepted it off Sibago Island and boarded the vessel and abducted the crewmen. Another Filipino cargo ship, MV Lorcon Iloilo, passing near Basilan rescued the wounded sailor and provided him first aid.
The Abu Sayyaf is also holding over a dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors in the restive region.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who visited Kuala Lumpur last year, has allowed Malaysia to enter the country’s southern border in hot pursuit of Abu Sayyaf rebels and kidnap gangs following the slew of ransom kidnappings in Sabah just near the Muslim province of Tawi-tawi.
Manila also allowed Indonesia to do the same following the spate of Abu Sayyaf attacks on its tugboats in Sabah and Tawi-tawi. The Philippines has joint border patrol agreements with both Malaysia and Indonesia.