KOTA KINABALU: Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen holding three Indonesian fishermen captive remain elusive in their homeground of Jolo island in the southern Philippines, amid an ongoing military offensive against them.
Anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said the group had been keeping a low profile since returning to Jolo with the abductees.
“Their exact whereabouts are sketchy,” he said, adding that the kidnappers would, however, usually keep their captives in the mountainous jungles around Indanan and Patikul munici-palities.
He said the gunmen were likely having a minimum number to guard their captives, with many now blending in with the general population in town areas.
“They are doing this to avoid detection by the military,” Octavio added.
The three Indonesians – who are Timorese identified as Lorence Koten, 34, Teo Dorus Kopong, 42, and Emanuel, 46 –were snatched from a Malaysian-registered fishing vessel 3.6 nautical miles from Kampung Sinakut in Lahad Datu early last Saturday.
They were taken by five armed men in a speedboat that fled towards the Tawi-Tawi islands bordering Sabah.
Four other crewmen – three Pelahu or sea gypsies and another Indonesian – were let off.
It could not be ascertained which group was behind the latest incident although suspicion fell on Apo Mike, who was responsible for several recent kidnappings involving sailors on tugboats plying international waters along the Sabah-Philippines border.