Kidnapping seafarers is proving alarmingly lucrative for Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Newswire Associated Press reports that the Islamist group made more than $7m in ransom payments in the first six months of the year, the majority coming from abducted tugboat crew.
In 2016, Abu Sayyaf has attacked at least five tugs and one trawler and kidnapped 33 seafarers.
Abu Sayyaf has been targeting smaller ships transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas this year, taking crews for ransom, an escalating problem that has seen the navies of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia up patrols in the area. Splash lead Opinion writer Andrew Craig-Bennett has described the area as “the next Somalia”.