Vietnamese ship hijacked off Philippines, 6 abducted

By Doan Loan   November 11, 2016 | 02:53 am PT
Vietnamese ship hijacked off Philippines, 6 abducted
The signboard of the Vietnamese cargo ship Royal 16, as shown in the ship's official Facebook page.
Abu Sayyaf, a group of Islamic militants, are the prime suspects behind the attack.

Six men from northern Vietnam were abducted by pirates after their cargo ship was attacked off the coast of the Philippines on Friday morning, according to the Vietnam Marine Administration.

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

The pirates then returned the boat and 13 of the 19 crew members after shooting one of them in the arm.

They took the boat’s captain and five other crew members.

Vietnamese authorities have not identified the attackers, but Filipino newspapers said the ship was likely hijacked by Abu Sayyaf, a group of Islamic militants operating out of lawless Philippine islands.

The Vietnamese ship continued its journey and reached the nearest port of Zamboanga in the Philippines safely. Filipino coast guards are investigating the case.

The Vietnam Marine Administration is seeking assistance from the foreign ministry and international organizations.

Last May, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to conduct coordinated maritime patrols after a spate of ship hijackings by the Abu Sayyaf group. Indonesia has warned that the problem could reach levels seen off Somalia.

Abu Sayyaf militants have become notorious for kidnapping over the past 15 years and have earned millions of dollars in ransoms. They have acquired modern weapons, high-powered boats and communications equipment, Reuters reported.

The militants were in the past linked to Al Qaeda and have voiced support for Islamic State.

The abduction happened just two weeks after Somali pirates freed 26 hostages, including three Vietnamese fishermen, who had been held hostage since 2012.

Related news:

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

>Somali pirates free 26 hostages, among them Vietnamese, held since 2012

>Vietnam to extradite Indonesian 'pirates' to Malaysia

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