As 7 Filipinos in Nigeria freed, 10 kidnapped in Gulf of Guinea

Massoel Shipping's bulk carrier MV Glarus. (Photo courtesy: PopeyeNet/shipspotting.com)
Updated 01 November 2018
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As 7 Filipinos in Nigeria freed, 10 kidnapped in Gulf of Guinea

  • Philippine foreign ministry says the new victims were among a multinational crews seized from two tankers seized off Equatorial Giunea
  • In the first half of 2018, 35 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom in the region, say reports

MANILA: After seven abducted Filipino seafarers were freed in Nigeria, 10 others have been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has received information that 10 Filipino seafarers are in the hands of suspected pirates who hijacked two vessels. 

The Philippines’ ambassador to Nigeria, Shirley Ho-Vicario, said two Filipino seafarers on board a Liberian-flagged container ship were among 11 crew members kidnapped by pirates who boarded the vessel on Saturday.

Another eight Filipino seafarers on a Panamanian-registered tanker, along with nine other crew members, remain unaccounted for after their vessel was hijacked on Monday, Ho-Vicario added.

The Philippine Embassy is trying to establish the whereabouts of the 10 seafarers and secure their safe release, she said. 

It was not immediately clear if they were taken by the same group of pirates who abducted seven Filipinos on board a Swiss-flagged vessel off Nigerian waters. 

The seven were released on Sunday, more than a month after they were seized. Their release was announced by the DFA on Tuesday.

The seven were among the 12 crew members of the Swiss-owned MV Glarus who were taken by armed men who boarded the vessel while on its way from Lagos to Port Harcourt on Sept. 22.

Five other Filipinos and two foreign nationals were left on board the vessel. It was not immediately clear why they were not taken. 

Ho-Vicario “said the Filipino seafarers are now in Zurich, Switzerland, from where they will be flown to Manila,” the DFA said.

In the first half of 2018, 35 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom in the region, the report added.

Meanwhile, the DFA has advised the Filipino community in Nigeria to remain vigilant as clashes between police and protesters from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria entered their second day on Tuesday.

The Philippine Embassy in Abuja has urged Filipinos in Nigeria’s capital to remain indoors due to the violence.

Ho-Vicario said the embassy is in touch with Filipino community leaders, and no Filipinos have so far been reported to be among the dead and wounded. 

Reports place the number of protesters killed at between three and 18. Security forces reportedly opened fire after they were attacked by Shiite protesters demanding the release of their leader. 


Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

Updated 8 min 56 sec ago
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Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

THE HAGUE: Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a Syrian asylum seeker suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of the Al-Nusra Front militant group, prosecutors said.
The 47-year-old man, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Khuder, was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said.
“The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander or a terrorist Jabhat Al-Nusra battalion,” the prosecutor said in a statement, using another name for the Al-Nusra front.
It said he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).
The arrested Syrian has lived in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, the statement said.
Police searched the suspect’s house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone, it said, adding that he was due to appear in court on Friday.
He was arrested based on information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.
German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.
The Al-Nusra Front was allied to Al-Qaeda but renounced ties to the group. Under a new name, it now dominates the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which holds administrative control of the Syrian city of Idlib.
The arrest of the Syrian comes as the Netherlands grapples with the problem of what to do with home-grown radicals who went to fight in Syria.
At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to join militant groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.
Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.
The issue was highlighted in March when the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join Daesh said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.