KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian security forces are believed to have foiled a possible kidnapping or robbery attempt on the crew of a tugboat in waters off Pulau Berhala, close to Malaysia’s border with the Philippines.
It is believed that the immediate air and sea response from security forces under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) led to the intruders fleeing before reaching their target in the incident that took place at about 6.30pm on Monday.
All crew on the tugboat are safe, and it has been learned that the rapid response was due to a member of the tugboat’s crew hiding in the boat to send out a call to alert the Esscom command centre.
Esscom commander Datuk Wan Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said that a crewman on the tugboat had called Esscom after seeing a suspicious vessel approaching them.
“Security forces from various agencies moved in to intercept and the suspects fled upon seeing them,” he said when contacted.
The tugboat was heading to Tawan from Sandakan.
Wan Bari added that the security forces were still hunting for the suspects, and said that a team of Esscom officials were escorting the tugboat back to Sandakan.
"We hope to get more information on this after they have arrived," he said, adding that an official report would be lodged when the tugboat returns to Sandakan.