Pirates kill 8 fishermen off Zamboanga

Pirates kill 8 fishermen off Zamboanga

Philippine Coast Guard divers inspect an almost sunken fishing boat after recovering bodies of fishermen attacked by suspected pirates in waters off Zamboanga City yesterday.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Eight fishermen were killed by suspected pirates off Laud Siromon Island in this city early yesterday.

Seven other fishermen survived the pre-dawn attack by jumping off the boat as the gunmen started shooting and swimming toward the island, Coast Guard station chief  Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea said.

Dagalea said a passing motorboat rescued some of the fishermen while others were found on a nearby island.

Their fishing boat, F/B NR, was riddled with bullet holes and sank, he said.

Police Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, spokesperson for the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO), said the 15 were on a fishing trip from Sibugtoc Island when armed men on two speedboats approached and boarded their vessel and ordered them to go to the bow area.

Two of the survivors, Nomar Sakandal and Kervin Banahan, told police that the armed men suddenly opened fire.

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“We managed to jump overboard and swim away but some of our companions were killed,” one of them said.

The bodies of the eight fishermen were retrieved, all of them hogtied with multiple gunshot wounds, indicating they were executed, police said.

Dagalea added the unidentified gunmen could be pirates, while a military report said the motives being looked into include extortion or a grudge between fishing groups. 

Abu Sayyaf militants are suspected of being behind a string of ship hijackings in the area, and last week, coast guard and navy units foiled an attempt by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen to hijack a cargo vessel in nearby Basilan province. – AP, Evelyn Macairan