The Philippines Coastguard said pirates had attacked the Vietnamese ship Giang Hai Baguan Island in Tawi-Tawi, Reuters reported. The Coastguard said it had rescued 17 of the 25 crew members, while one was killed and seven kidnapped according to multiple media reports. Coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said it had launched a pursuit in coordination with the military and the police.
In some confusion over the number of seafarers abducted the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre in Singapore said six had been kidnapped including the master and chief officer, quoting information from the Vietnamese Coastguard. "The pirates destroyed navigation and communication equipment before escaping. The ship is now at Taganak anchorage area, Tawi Tawi, Philippines undergoing investigation conducted by the Philippine authorities," ReCAAP said.
The attack took place close to the strong hold of Islamic terror group Abu Sayaaf that has been linked to a string on kidnap for ransom cases against commercial shipping in the southern Philippines since the March 2016.
Abu Sayaaf started attacking commercial vessels in the Sulu-Celebes sea area in March last year and successfully kidnapping crew from 10 vessels, with a further six unsuccessful attacks last year alone. Initially attacking smaller vessels such as tugs and barges, the militants graduated to hitting larger ships, including an unsuccessful attack on a capesize bulker.
The Islamic militants are currently estimated to holding 27 hostages from attacks both on shipping and abductions on land.