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AFP acknowledges receiving tip about ASG holding Vietnamese cargo vessel crew

Army units move in pursuit operation against Abu Sayyaf Group.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it has received reports that six Vietnamese seamen abducted by armed men who stormed their cargo vessel in Basilan Friday last week are now in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

According to Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, reports were received from field units that the Vietnamese crew are now at the hands of the ASG, although it still has to be confirmed whether or not they are being held at the island province of Basilan off Zamboanga.

Arevalo stressed, though, that the reports are still subject for their further verification, "because we do not want to preempt any further follow-up action that might be taken on the matter."

He elaborated, though, that, as part of the military's standard operating procedure, a team has already been dispatched to look into the abduction of the Vietnamese.

Arevalo said he believes there is now coordination between the AFP and the Vietnamese embassy. An interpreter has been provided to facilitate possible opportunities for communicating directly with the hostages.

He also told journalists that, as of Tuesday, the vessel was still in Zamboanga waiting for a replacement set of crew to arrive and resume the vessel's journey to Davao City.