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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Unidentified gunmen have reportedly abducted 3 crewmen of a fishing boat while heading to the restive province of Basilan in southern Philippines.

One of the three men has been identified as Ronnie Bancale. His wife, Marilou, has reported the incident to the police after Bancale phoned her and said they were seized by gunmen who were demanding P1 million ransoms for their safe release.

Other reports identified the others as Winie Pandiag and Romeo Rubio.

The fishing boat – which is registered in Zamboanga del Sur province – came from here and was believed hijacked between Basilan and Zamboanga City on February 15.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Abu Sayyaf rebels are actively operating in Basilan and had been linked to piracy and kidnappings in the past.

In January 2012, unidentified gunmen also attacked a small fleet of fishing boats off Sibago Island which is part of Basilan and almost wiping out all its 18 crew members. The bodies of the slain fishermen were brought back to Pagadian City.

Only 3 fishermen had survived the attack, but they were all seriously wounded. The victims were mostly from Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province where they are based, but sailed to the troubled Basilan on three boats – Palakaya 1, 2 and 3 – to catch fish.

The attack was believed connected to a turf war among fishermen. (Mindanao Examiner)

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