Region on high alert after hijacking of Vietnamese vessel

By Doan Loan   November 12, 2016 | 05:36 pm GMT+7

The bulk carrier Royal 16 was attacked near the Philippines and six crew members have been abducted.

Vietnam on Saturday issued a safety warning to vessels traveling through regional waters after a Vietnamese ship was hijacked off the coast of the Philippines on Friday, with six crew members abducted.

Nguyen Xuan Sang, who heads the Vietnam Marine Administration, said this is the second warning since May, when ships near Eastern Sabah and Southern Philippines were first advised to stay watchful.

The Royal 16, which was carrying cement from the northern province of Quang Ninh, reportedly sent a distress call at 3:30 a.m. on Friday. A group of 10 gunmen on a speedboat hijacked it around 10 nautical miles to the southwest of Basilan, one of the five provinces in the Philippines' troubled southern Muslim autonomous region.

Last known position of Royal 16

The pirates kidnapped the boat’s captain and five other crew members, but they released the ship and 13 others, after shooting one of them in the arm. The remaining crew were reportedly proceeding to the port of Zamboanga.

It remains unclear who the attackers are, but Filipino newspapers said the ship was likely hijacked by Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to Al Qaeda and known for beheadings and kidnappings.

After the incident, vessels in the region have been urged to exercise extra vigilance or reroute from the area if possible.

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) on Friday issued an alert notifying other ships of the Royal 16 incident. The agency said it is "concerned about the situation."

A ReCAAP report showed that in the first 10 months, there were 11 cases of abductions and three hijackings in the region.

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Locations of some incidents recorded by ReCAAP in October 2016.

Related news:

Vietnamese ship hijacked off Philippines, 6 abducted

 
 
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