MANILA Jan 10  – Eight fishermen were killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Seven fishermen escaped by jumping off their boat during the attack at sea off the city of Zamboanga, 875 kilometres south of Manila, on Monday evening, said Major Filemon Tan.

Authorities were considering extortion or a personal grudge as possible motives for the attack, Tan said.

Troops were dispatched to help police track down the suspects and investigate the attack, he added.

Islamist extremists have in the past launched attacks at sea in the southern Philippines, kidnapping foreign fishermen and tourists.

The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group is still holding captive about 20 hostages, including a 70-year-old German man seized from his yacht in November. – dpa

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