ZAMBOANGA CITY – Pirates attacked a group of fishermen and killed at least 8 off Zamboanga City in southern Philippines and officials said 5 others survived the attack.
Sangali village chieftain Daud Bakil said the attack occurred late Monday near Siromon Island. The massacre was only reported early Tuesday after 2 of the survivors managed to flee and return to Sangali to report the incident.
The gunmen asked the fishermen if they were Muslims and shot them when they failed to recite a prayer. The bodies of the fishermen were recovered on their boat. Their hands were all tied with a nylon rope.
Bakil said the pirates were collecting monies from fishermen in the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but security at sea remains a serious problem in the region.
Just recently, Abu Sayyaf rebels tried, but failed to hijack a Filipino cargo ship while sailing off Basilan near Zamboanga City. The gunmen, on board two speedboats, attacked the vessel Ocean Kingdom - manned by over 2 dozen sailors - off Sibago Island. The ship was heading to Davao City to deliver its cargo when it came under fire. It managed to escape from the attack.
It was the second cargo ship attacked by rebels off Basilan since November last year. Abu Sayyaf fighters also hijacked a Vietnamese cargo ship and seized 6 crewmen, including its captain in a daring attack 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 and evacuated to a hospital in Zamboanga City.
The Abu Sayyaf is also holding over a dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)