ZAMBOANGA CITY – Security forces foiled an attempt by gunmen on three speedboats to hijack a cargo ship on Tuesday off Siocon town in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said.
Officials said the military deployed a navy gunboat and backed by two air force helicopters to rescue the cargo ship Anabelle whose captain radioed for help after gunmen tried to hijack the vessel.
The ship, with 21 crew members, was heading to Zamboanga City when the gunmen attacked and tried to board the vessel. The armed men quickly sped off after spotting the approaching navy boat and helicopters.
“The ship was safely escorted by the navy patrol craft 395 to Zamboanga City,” said army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, the regional naval commander, praised the successful operation. “Our naval assets are all ready to render necessary assistance to deter hijacking and abduction at seas,” he said.
The military did not say whether the gunmen were members of the Abu Sayyaf or not, although other rebel groups are actively operating in the province. On February 22, security forces also thwarted an attempt by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants to hijack the Vietnamese cargo ship Dong Hae Star off Tawi-Tawi province near the Sabah border. (Mindanao Examiner)
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