KOTA KINABALU: The kidnapping of a 70-year-old German and the killing of his wife by Abu Sayyaf gunmen occurred in waters off the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in the southern Philippines.
Philippines intelligence sources said the incident happened at about 2.30am Monday off Tanjung Luuk Pisuk in Tawi-Tawi.
The sources said the couple, Juegen Kantner and Sabina Wetch, were on a private yacht in Tanjong Luuk Pisuk, which in Tausug means muddy water.
It is said that Wetch was shot dead while Kantner was kidnapped.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali alias Abu Rami told Philippines media that the group had abducted the German man and killed his wife off Tawi-Tawi.
He said the woman had fought back and was shot and killed in a firefight.
The couple, who were kidnapped in Somalia in 2008, were sailing from Palawan, an island north of Sabah, and passing through Tawi-Tawi waters bordering Sabah when the incident happened.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Wan Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said they got wind of the incident from the Internet but have not received any official report.
“We have not received any official police report, information or complaint from any yacht club about the matter,” he said in a text message Monday.
“We are still verifying this news and where it happened," he said.
Philippines regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said earlier that Muamar had claimed that villagers reported finding a woman lying dead beside a shotgun on a blue yacht with the German flag and marked "Rock All", off Laparan Island in Sulu province, where many hostages are kept.
It was also reported that marines were deployed to verify the villagers' report and have been instructed to be careful in approaching the yacht because it might be rigged with explosives.
In June 2008, the couple were sailing their yacht, Rockfall, through the dangerous Gulf of Aden when armed pirates captured them and held them captive in a mountain hideout.
After 52 days in captivity, when they were subjected to deprivation and mock executions, a German newspaper reported that Kantner was freed after US$$600,000 was paid to the Somalis.
Kantner, however, declined to elaborate on the circumstances of his release.