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Pirates posed as fishermen in distress

/ 04:26 AM January 12, 2017

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The pirates who killed eight in an attack on a fishing vessel in the southern Philippines had posed as fishermen needing help, one of the survivors said on Wednesday.

“We thought they needed help,” said Omar Sakandal, referring to the five men on a small boat, who approached their fishing  boat as they were slowing down off Siromon Island here after an abundant catch two days earlier.

Their boat master, Danny Bagalanong, allowed the small vessel to approach to be able to assist them, Sakandal said.

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“We thought they will ask for water but soon, as one of them got on our boat, they showed their firearms. The other men also boarded our boat and  started hitting our colleagues,” Sakandal said.

Kevin Banahan, another survivor, said he even spoke with the men in Tausug,  the dialect of the people of Sulu.

When things started turning ugly, he said he and several other companions—

including Sakandal—jumped off the fishing boat. Their eight other companions were seized by then, including Bagalanong and his 16-year-old son, Richard.

Sakandal and Banahan said they heard bursts of gunfire while they were swimming for safety.

“We just swam until we saw some islands and other fishing boats,” Banahan said.

It was about dawn when they reached Barangay Sangali, where they immediately went to the village hall to report the incident to village chair Daud Bakil.

Authorities who proceeded to the site of the incident saw eight corpses.

The hands of the victims were tied with nylon ropes behind their backs and  their bodies riddled with bullets, according to Chief Insp. Chester Natividad, commander of the Sangali police station.

Natividad said among those slain were two minors.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar said she had ordered a thorough  investigation of the incident as authorities announced the arrest of a possible suspect.

Natividad identified the suspect as Midzfar Yunos Nuno, 32, a resident of  Sitio Seaside in Sangali, who was arrested Tuesday evening.

He said Nuno had been arrested in the past for extortion among fishermen in  the village.—JULIE ALIPALA

TAGS: Philippine news updates, pirates, Siromon Island
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