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Vietnamese abductors still being verified by AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are still verifying whether or not the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were the ones who abducted six Vietnamese in the waters near Sibago island in Basilan province on Friday.

AFP Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla yesterday disclosed that they still have to establish which group seized the foreigners since no group has come forward or has sent word to admit the kidnapping.

“It’s hard to say if indeed they are behind it. There is always that possibility that another group might be behind it,” said Padilla.

Earlier, authorities were able to gather information from Lai Minh Kao, a crew member of the Vietnam boat Royal 16, which was attacked by at least 10 armed men while traveling from Vietnam to Davao at around 5 a.m. Friday.

The ship according to a report was carrying a load of cement when the seajacking occurred.

Padilla stressed that since receiving the report of the abduction of the Vietnamese last Friday, efforts have already been made to immediately locate their whereabouts.

“The AFP Western Mindanao Command immediately launch an area search and up to this time that is still ongoing. Efforts are being made to find them,” Padilla said.

The AFP Western Mindanao Command said Lai is now recuperating at the Brent Hospital here after he was shot by the attackers, who were earlier believed to be ASG bandits.

He identified those who were taken by the armed men as the ship’s captain Pham Min Tuan and crew members Do Trung Hieu, Hoang Vo, Tran Khac Dung, Huang Trung Thong and Huang Van Hai. (Francis T. Wakefield)