On Thursday afternoon, two licensed mariners were abducted from the vehicle carrier Super Shuttle Roro 9 in the vicinity of General Santos City, Mindanao. Philippine authorities said that pirates in three speedboats approached the vessel, boarded it, and made off with the captives. The Philippine military suspects the involvement of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out a string of maritime kidnappings over the past year.
"Two Filipino crew, the ship's captain and chief engineer, were taken captive," said AFP Lieutenant-Commander Alvin Dagalea, speaking to local media. "The reports are still sketchy, but we have reasons to believe the Abu Sayyaf are behind the attack."
The head of Philippine Coast Guard Station Zamboanga, Alvin Dagalea, told Rappler that the abductees were captain Aurelio Agacac and chief engineer Laurencio Tiro. The rest of the crew was left on board.
Earlier that day, a team of Philippine sailors and marines rescued two Malaysian captives from Abu Sayyaf near Pata Island, in the Sulu archipelago. The two men were part of the crew of a tugboat seized by Abu Sayyaf off of Sabah last July. Major General Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told ABS CBN that the men were in poor health and appeared weak.
Handout image courtesy Westmincom (via Rappler)
The Armed Forces of the Philippines identified the rescued crewmembers as Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, and Tayudin Anjut, 45. The men were taken to a hospital for evaluation.
The Philippine military has mounted an all-out offensive against the terrorist group in Sulu and Basilan, and it claims that it is near to bringing Abu Sayyaf's 26-year reign of terror to a close. Despite the ongoing campaign, the group is still believed to be holding nearly thirty hostages, most of them seafarers.