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UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN abducted 3 Indonesian fishermen off Sabah in Malaysia and believed to have been taken to the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi.

Malaysian media reported the abduction recently and was also confirmed by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal who said the fishermen were likely Buton, an island off Sulawesi.

Only three of the 7 fishermen were seized by gunmen, according to Sabah commissioner of police Datuk Omar Mammah. He said that the victims were on a pair of trawlers when masked gunmen on two motorized boats intercepted them off Tambisan Island just 7 nautical miles from the town of Lahad Datu.

“While the trawlers were fishing for prawns, the suspects’ pump boats approached the two boats from behind, and gunmen, dressed in camouflage gear and masks, boarded the two trawlers. Four gunmen boarded the first boat and three suspects boarded the second boat. They aimed a gun at the three crew men on one boat and told them to get on the pump boat.”

“On the other boat, the suspects took all of the documents and cell phones from the crewmen, but did not take any of the four fishermen on board,” Omar was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail. “They then sped off towards the islands of Tawi-Tawi in Philippines. The three kidnapped victims were aged between 27 and 40 years old.”

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but early this month Bernama reported that Indonesian Consul General Krishna Djelani warned Indonesians to stay vigilant after receiving reports that suspected Abu Sayyaf militants may strike in Sabah.

“We were initially informed that there was a movement of armed groups from southern Philippines that had to do with kidnapping for ransom. Any information that we receive, we have to warn the Indonesians there as a precaution, lest they become victims (of abduction). Our only intention (to issue the notification) is to warn our citizens to be careful,” he said.

Sabah is home to about 300,000 Indonesians and the warning was raised to ensure that those working as fishermen and crew members of ships take safety precautions and not fall victim to ransom kidnapping.

The warning said three Abu Sayyaf groups were reported to have moved into the waters of eastern Sabah on August 30 with the intention to kidnap by targeting several ships, namely Kapal Batubara, Kapal Tanker, Nelayan Kapal Lengkong and Kapal Tarik Udang, especially in Bakongan, Bahala, Sandakan, Mamiang, Tambisan in Sabah and Taganak at the southern border of Tawi-Tawi.

There were no immediate reports from Philippine authorities about the latest abductions. (Zamboanga Post)


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