Gunmen seize 6 Vietnamese sailors near Basilan
Ten gunmen believed to be Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members have hijacked early Friday a Vietnam-flagged bulk cargo vessel and seized six persons, including five officers off Basilan province.
Major Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said the military would have to verify the identity of kidnappers but he noted the Abu Sayyaf Group is among their suspects.
Tan said the military has sent its naval assets to search and rescue the kidnap victims.
Tan said based on an initial report MV Royal 16 was sailing towards Davao area when it was allegedly sea jacked at the vicinity of Coco Island in Basilan strait around 5 am. .
The MV Lorcon (Lorenzo Container)-Iloilo bulk cargo vessel was passing near Sibago Island, Mohammad Ajul, Basilan, when it spotted MV Royal 16.
The Lorcon-Iloilo vessel transported one of the Vietnam-flagged vessel crew identified as Dham Yan Trong, an electrician, to a local hospital.
Trong was accompanied to the hospital by Lai Minh Khao, the fourth engineer.
“The gunmen shot him (Trong) when he ran as they were about to take him,” said Commander Jerome Cayabyab, head of the Zamboanga Coast Guard, based on the information Khao gave them.
The identities of the boat captain, chief mate, second officer, third officer, bosun (boatswain), and a seaman have yet to be established.
Cayabyab said they do not know the point of origin and destination of MV Royal 16 including its cargo. “We have yet to board the vessel (MV Royal 16),” he added.
He said they have sent a fisheries bureau vessel manned by coast guard personnel to escort the MV Royal 16 to Zamboanga City port. Robina Asido/DMS