Saturday, October 22, 2016
Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants hijacked a South Korean cargo ship and seized the captain and its crew off Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Thursday. Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan said some 10 gunmen boarded the MV Dong Bang Giant 2 using ropes from a speedboat and snatched the captain Park Jul Hong and Filipino crewman Glenn Alindajao. The cargo ship was on its way to South Korea from Australia when they were intercepted by the gunmen in the Sulu Sea. Initial reports said the captain was able to make a distress call before he was taken by the bandits, suspected to be the faction of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Idang Susukan based in Sulu. The Joint Task Force-Tawi-Tawi (JTFT) under Col. Custodio Parcon has been alerted and dispatched all its units to intercept the bandits and rescue the captives once spotted in Tawi-Tawi. Tan said troops in the nearby province of Sulu have also conducted intercept operations as the area has been used by the Abu Sayyaf in hiding hostages taken near the border with Sabah.
MV Dong Bang Giant 2
“As of press time, validation and intelligence monitoring are currently being conducted by the military in coordination with local chief executives and the locals to track down the perpetrators and safely rescue the victims,” Tan said. Initial reports said the gunmen spared the other crewmembers, one of whom managed to call his family to alert the authorities. Naval patrols off Tawi-Tawi and nearby Sulu, where Abu Sayyaf militants take most of their kidnapping victims, have been strengthened in recent months due to a spate of abductions at sea of crewmembers from Malaysia and Indonesia, Tan said. “We do our best to secure that area but it’s a wide body of water,” Tan said. Similar sea attacks by the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines have sparked a regional security alarm. The rise of sea hijackings prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia to agree on coordinated patrols to secure the region’s busy waterways. However, the coordinated patrols are yet to get underway. Abu Sayyaf, known for amassing tens of millions of dollars from kidnappings, has beheaded two Canadian nationals in recent months after ransom deadlines passed.