Gunmen kill 15 fishermen off Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/24 January) – Unidentified gunmen killed 15 of 18 crew members of three fishing boats in an attack off Basilan province, a military official today said.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said the attack took place around 7 a.m. Monday near Sibago Island, Mohammad Ajul town.

Cabangbang said the victims were aboard three “palakaya” boats on a fishing venture when attacked by gunmen aboard three “pakura” vessels.

He described the “pakura” as a high-speed small motorized banca with two persons capacity each.

All the seven fishermen aboard the first boat were killed, five died and two were wounded in the second, and three were killed and one was injured in the third, the military official said.

Except for one of the three survivors, the fatalities and two other wounded fishermen were retrieved by other fishermen who were near the crime scene, and were brought to Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province, he said.

Cabangbang said Jerome Lunsol, 22, of San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur, who suffered gunshot wounds in the head and back of his body was taken to the Zamboanga City Medical Center.

Zamboanga del Sur police director, Senior Supt. Jose Bayani Gucela said that the victims were on their maiden fishing venture, and all came from San Pablo town.

Wesmincom chief Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes has ordered the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) to pursue the perpetrators.

Coballes also ordered the NFWM to coordinate with the police in Basilan in the conduct of investigation. (MindaNews)