A vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard at the crime scene.(Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

Hanoi (VNA) – Eight Filipino fishermen were killed when five suspected pirates attacked a fishing boat in southern Philippine waters, officials said on January 10.

Spokesman of the Philippine Coast Guard, Commander Armand Balilo said that the fishing boat with 15 fishermen on board was attacked offshore Laud Siromon island near Zamboanga peninsula, by five gunmen on January 9.

The attackers fired at the fishermen and took eight lives. Five fishermen jumped into the water and swam to a nearby island while two other people remaining aboard were unhurt. The gunmen then left the scene.

Two vessels have been deployed to the crime scene. Balilo said that the case is regarded as a pirate attack because if the attackers were Muslim militants, they would have held the fishermen captive for ransom.

The attack occurred when Philippine soldiers were given a six-month deadline to eradicate threats of Muslim militants, including attacks on cargo ships in southern Philippines, where rebellions have worsened due to the increasing influence of the self-claimed Islamic State (IS).-VNA