Police arrest 2 suspects linked to killing of 8 fishermen off Zamboanga

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Zamboanga City (CNN Philippines) — Authorities have arrested in separate operations two suspects linked to the killing of eight fishermen at Kuarentahan Fishing Ground off Siromon Island on Monday.

Police identified the suspects as Midzfar Nuño and Arakain Samlan.

Nuño was arrested during the illegal drug operations of the Sangali and Curuan police in Seaside Sangali around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Nuño was initially brought to the police station for temporary detention for drug charges, but investigators later found out he's one of 12 suspects behind the killings.

Police were able to recover three sachets of suspected shabu, one hand grenade and P200 marked money used in the buy-bust operation.

Samlan, meanwhile, was arrested in a follow-up operation of the Curuan Police and the 11th Infantry Battalion in Muti.

Zamboanga City Police Office Chief Sr. Supt. Luisito Magnaye said the suspects were identified based on information given by at least six fishermen who survived the attack.

He said the group is involved in extortion activities operating in Zamboanga's east coast.

Based on witness accounts, 12 armed men on board four pumpboats approached the group of fishermen on Monday.

The suspects then ordered the segregation of the group based on religion.

They ordered the Muslims to tie up their Christian companions with a rope and ordered the former to jump from the boat. The suspects then shot the group of Christian fishermen and fled.

A report from Police Regional Office 9 stated the suspects boarded the fishing boat and demanded money from the owner identified as Momar Sacandal, who said no money was given.

Meanwhile, Magnaye said the incident may also be related to a police operation in 2016 where two members of the lawless group were killed.

Magnaye added the group might have retaliated and vented their anger on the owners of the business the fishermen are working for.