The Philippine coast guard have foiled an attempted pirate attack on a cargo vessel by suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
The attempted boarding yesterday (Tuesday, April 18) of the Doña Anabelle occurred off Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte about 50 miles to the north of the Sulu archipelago, the Islamic State-affiliated group’s stronghold.
Regional police chief Billy Beltran told the Inquirer that armed militants on two motorboats fired at the vessel off the village of Santa Maria.
Zamboanga Coast Guard Station Commander Alvin Dagale told the Philippine Sun Star that the attackers fled when military patrol vessels approached. None of the crew were injured, and the responders escorted the ship to Zamboanga City.
Mr Beltran said that the affiliation of the attackers had not been fully confirmed, and investigations were continuing.
In recent years, Abu Sayyaf has made the waters between the Philippines and Malaysia among the most dangerous in the world for maritime piracy.
While its activities are usually focussed on the Sulu Archipelago, last week a group of terrorists mounted an unsuccessful kidnapping raid on the tourist island of Bohol, several hundred miles to the north.
The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have announced joint naval patrols to suppress the group’s activities in the waters between Tawi Tawi and Sabah. Japan has offered to provide the Philippines with military advisors and pursuit boats, and President Duterte has even invited the Chinese navy and coast guard to help patrol the area.