Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – The Royal 16, a Vietnamese cargo ship with 19 crewmen on board, was attacked and captured by pirates today while sailing in the sea off the Basilan Island, the Philippines, according to the Việt Nam Maritime Administration (VNMA).
The pirates seized six crewmen, including the captain, after releasing the boat and 13 other crewmen, one of whom was shot in the hand by the pirates, the administration said.
Owned by the Qúy Sang Maritime Transport Joint Stock Company in the northern province of Thái Bình, the vessel, which departed from the coast off Quảng Ninh Province on November 5 carrying a large cargo of cement, sent an emergency signal at about 3:30pm today, while some 10 nautical miles west-southwest off Baliland Island, the administration reported.
After being released, the boat, with its 13 remaining crewmen, continued to sail until reaching Zamboanga, also in the Philippines.
The Filipino coast guard had begun an investigation, said the VNMA.
The Vietnamese maritime authority added that it had informed the regional anti-piracy co-operation agency about the abduction, as well as other agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier, AFP, a French news agency, reported that the Vietnamese cargo vessel was captured by gunmen in the southern Philippine waters, an area where the Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants have been on a kidnapping-for-ransom spree.
The attack brought to at least eight the number of people abducted from vessels in the region over the past week, including an elderly German sailor, raising fears authorities are unable to control the worsening piracy problem.
In recent months, Abu Sayyaf has been accused of kidnapping dozens of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in waters off the southern Philippines.
Over the weekend, an Abu Sayyaf commander claimed responsibility for abducting a 70-year-old German sailor and murdering his wife, AFP reported.— VNS