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Sabah in full alert, extends curfew due to Sayyaf threats

SABAH HAS extended anew its curfew hours from dawn till dusk and is now on heightened due to threats posed by the terror group Abu Sayyaf.

This was also confirmed by Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah who said the curfew was necessary due to the “continuing threat of kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminals from neighboring Philippines.”

The curfew has been extended until March 27 in Sabah’s eastern coast which is now on full alert following Philippine intelligence reports that at least 17 Abu Sayyaf militants led by sub-leaders Salip Mura, Majan Sahidjuan alias Mike Apo and Abu Radin were planning to strike or on the hunt for targets of ransom kidnappings. Sabah began its imposition of curfew in 2014.

This was also reported by Malaysia’s The Star newspaper which said that “intelligence reports in the Philippines stated that the group was going to team up with its Tawi- Tawi-based criminal elements who acted as spotters or lookouts for hostages in the eastern Sabah sea border.”

It said Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Huzani Ghazali admitted that they were aware of the information about the movement of the Abu Sayyaf gunmen along the sea border. “We remain on full alert and have deployed all available forces into the area,” he said, adding, the focus of operation was across the east coast sea border with southern Philippines that included Semporna, Lahad Datu and Sandakan.

The Star, quoting intelligence sources, said Mura – who is responsible for at least 2 kidnapping incidents late last year in Sabah’s east coast – was among the group using two speedboats with 75 horsepower-engines when they left Sulu recently. “With him this time around was sub-leader Mike Apo, who was actively behind the kidnappings in Sabah between 2014 and 2016,”

The Star sources claimed, adding, the Abu Sayyaf gunmen were looking for “higher value” targets as they had failed to gain much attention following the kidnappings of two Indonesian and a Malaysian fishermen from Pegasus Reef in the Kinabatangan area on December 5.

Abu Sayyaf militants, whose group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, have threatened to execute the Indonesian and Malaysian hostages if their ransom demand is not paid. The militants, who spoke in Bahasa Malaysia, released a video clip which showed the Indonesian hostages – believed to be Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45 – being guarded by gunmen.

The Malaysian hostage, Jari Abdulla, 24, was not with the duo. The captives, their eyes covered with black cloth and hands tied behind their back, made an emotional appeal for their government to save them. One militant even held a bolo on the neck of Hariadin as he spoke to the camera in forested area.

The video, reports said, surfaced several days last month after Abu Sayyaf gunmen phoned Jari’s wife, Nadin Junianti, saying that no Malaysian authorities or negotiators have contacted them to secure her husband’s release.

The gunmen said that her husband would face difficulties if there was no contact from Malaysia. They also asked her for telephone contacts of Malaysian journalists. Nadin has appealed to Malaysian authorities to help secure her husband’s release.

She said it was second time the kidnap group had contacted her. Malaysian media did not say how much ransoms the Abu Sayyaf is demanding for the safe release of the hostages. The militants are believed to be holding nearly a dozen captives, mostly foreigners. (Mindanao Examiner)


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