Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels attacked cargo ship off Basilan province
BASILAN – Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels on Tuesday tried, but failed to hijack a Philippine cargo ship while sailing off Basilan province in the Muslim autonomous region, authorities said.
The gunmen, on board two speedboats, attacked the vessel Ocean Kingdom off Sibago Island around 2 p.m. The ship was heading to Davao City to deliver its cargo when it came under fire.
A Filipino sailor from another vessel nearby said they received a distress call from MV Ocean Kindom. “Just in (in our VHF radio): Mayday, Mayday, Mayday this is MV Ocean Kingdom, we are under piracy attacks in the vicinity of Sibago Island,” the sailor, Jefry Abales, wrote on his Facebook page.
He said their ship was just 3 miles from MV Ocean Kingdom and also heading to Davao City when they received the frantic call from the vessel. He added the MV Ocean Kingdom managed to sail away from the attackers.
“Na anghelan gyud mi aning Barkoha. Kasabay ra namo na nga Barko ganeha around 1400hrs kay pareha ra namog destination underway to Davao from Zamboanga City pud sila, naka overtake lang sila kay kusog2 gamay mudagan ilang barko. Balik mis among agi for means of safety. Wala ka onboard ang pirates sa ila kay habog ilang barko, na buslot2 ra ilang barko kay ge pusil2 sa mga Pirata.”
“Salamat Lord gepa una gyud nemo tong Habog2 nga Barko para maka anghel kanamo igo ra raba unta ni ambakon sa pirate ning amo. Naka buntot rami anang barkoha 3 miles away ra mi anang MV Ocean Kingdom pag ataki sa pirates sa ila. Thanks God walay injured pud sa ila.”
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 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.
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. (Mindanao Examiner)