Saturday, November 12, 2016

Abu Sayyaf hijacks Vietnam vessel, abducts 6 crew

From The Gulf Today (Nov 11): Abu Sayyaf hijacks Vietnam vessel, abducts 6 crew

About 10 members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terror group hijacked a Vietnamese flagged cargo vessel and abducted the captain and five other crewmen in the high seas off the island province of Basilan in restive Mindanao, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported on Friday.

Commander Jerome Cayabyab, the PCG head in Zamboanga City, said the heavily-armed militants who were aboard a speedboat shot and wounded a Vietnamese sailor who attempted to escape during the hijacking of the MV Royale 16 that occurred off Basilan on Friday morning.

Cayabyab said the PCG learned of the hijacking from another cargo vessel passing through the same area, which immediately responded to a distress call from the Vietnamese ship.

According to Cayabyab, they have yet to ascertain where the Vietnamese vessel was found for, explaining that the wounded crewman who has been confined in a local hospital did not speak English.

The incident occurred exactly four days after the militants killed the wife of a German national aboard a yacht they hijacked off Sabah state in Malaysia, according to the military.

Major Filemon Tan, the spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, quoted an Abu Sayyaf spokesman as saying they brought the vessel after killing the woman who resisted and tried to fight them off with a shotgun.

Tan confirmed the militants brought their 70-year-old German hostage identified as Juergen Kantner to Sulu where government forces have launched an intensified “search and destroy” operation against them.

In a related development, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday announced the Philippine agreed to allow Malaysian and Indonesian security forces to conduct “hot pursuit” operations even in Philippine waters against the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal groups preying on vessels plying their common maritime borders.

Najib told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur he reached the agreement with President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte who made a two-day state-visit to Malaysia where they discussed, among others, the major problem of piracy perpetrated in particular by the Abu Sayyaf.

Najib pointed out that Duterte also had the same agreement with Indonesian President Joko Widodo during a recent similar state visit to that country.

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