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Gunmen strafe boat, 8 fishermen killed

Eight Filipino fishermen were killed after at least five suspected pirates boarded a fishing boat in southern Philippine waters and strafed the crew, officials said Tuesday.

Seven other fishermen survived Monday night’s attack in waters near southern Zamboanga City by jumping off the vessel as the gunmen started shooting and swimming toward an island, said Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea.

Dagalea, commander of Coast Guard station in Zamboanga on Mindanao island, said some of the survivors were rescued by a passing motorboat while others were found on the nearby island. Their boat, riddled with holes, sank.

Dagalea said in a telephone interview that the men were on a fishing trip when the armed men approached on another boat and then boarded their vessel and ordered them to go to the bow area.

“Then suddenly the armed men strafed them,” he said.

He said the unidentified gunmen could be pirates, while a military report said the motives being looked into include extortion or a grudge between fishing groups.

Abu Sayyaf militants are suspected to being behind a string of ship hijackings in the southern Philippine, and last week, coast guard and navy units foiled an attempt by suspect Abu Sayyaf gunmen to hijack a cargo vessel in nearby Basilan province. (AP)