Second Vietnamese sailor likely killed in pirate attack

By Giang Chinh   March 2, 2017 | 04:12 am PT
Islamic militants are the prime suspects, and the fate of the remaining abducted sailors remains unclear.

A second Vietnamese sailor was killed by pirates during an attack on a cargo ship off the coast of the Philippines last month, according to unconfirmed reports.

Do Huu Nghia, vice-captain of the Giang Hai, was allegedly shot dead by the pirates and thrown into the sea. The news surfaced after the ship's owners, the International Shipping Company based in the northern port city of Hai Phong, sent staff to inform Nghia's family of his death on Wednesday.

Since the company has yet to officially confirm the news to the media, and its leaders and officials were not immediately available for comment, it remains unclear how the company obtained the information.

Trinh Van Thuan, chairman of Dong Tam Commune where Nghia lived, confirmed that the man's family had been informed of the news.

Nghia may be the second victim to have died in the attack on the Giang Hai near the Sulu Archipelago to the southwest of the Philippines on February 19. At the time of the attack, the ship was carrying cement from Indonesia with 17 crew members on board.

The pirates damaged the boat and fatally shot Vu Duc Hanh, 21, from Hai Phong, before they left with six other crew members including Nghia and the captain. The remaining 10 crew members were set adrift on the vessel.

Vietnamese authorities have been seeking help from the Filipino government to demand the release of the crew members.

There are suspicions that Filipino Islamic militants were behind the attack on the Vietnamese cargo ship, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Tuesday, AFP reported.

"We can only assume that they were taken by Abu Sayyaf people but this has to be verified," Yasay told a news conference aired live on television, but added that it was "likely".

The waters between Malaysia and the southern Philippines have become increasingly dangerous in recent years as Filipino Muslim extremists have taken to piracy, boarding ships and seizing seamen for ransom.

Last November, six Vietnamese men were also abducted from a cargo ship off the Philippines by Abu Sayyaf militants, a notorious Islamic group equipped with modern weapons, communications equipment and high-powered boats. The group has raked in millions of dollars in ransoms over the past 15 years.

Prior to the latest incident, Filipino military said that the Abu Sayyaf were holding 27 hostages. They include Filipino, Malaysian, Indonesian, Vietnamese and German hostages, as well as a Dutchman abducted in 2012.

The Philippines is planning to ask its defense ally the United States to hold joint exercises in the southern waters, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last month, while President Rodrigo Duterte has also urged China to launch patrols off the piracy-plagued waters.

Related news:

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> Abducted Vietnamese sailors finally home after 4-year ordeal with Somali pirates

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