Stay close to Malaysian waters, fishermen warned

KOTA KINABALU: Fishermen in Sabah’s east coast have been warned against crossing the sea border to southern Philippines as they not only faced action by the authorities there but can also be kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf-linked gangs.

Amid the latest suspected kidnapping of three Indonesians from a Sandakan-registered fishing vessel in Tawi Tawi waters, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said local fishermen should stay within Malaysian waters.

“I know these operators know it too. We will talk to them again,” he told reporters after visiting the General Operations Force Sabah Brigade headquarters in Kinarut near here yesterday.

Khalid said various steps were taken by the force under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to deter armed kidnap groups roaming the sea borders from entering Malaysian territory.

“Some measures are being taken and some being planned,” Khalid said, adding that they did not need more reinforcement at this point.

On whether any calls were made to the owner of the fishing boat or to the families of the missing crew members who the Philippines authorities believe were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf-linked groups, Khalid said there were none.

“We are waiting for updates from our counterparts (Philippines),” he said, adding that the fishing boat was found empty with its engines running in waters close to Taganak in the Tawi Tawi area.

The three Indonesians are Hamdan Salim, 29, Subandi Sattu, 47, and Sudaling Samandung, 26.

They are believed to have been kidnapped by an Abu Sayyaf member who goes by the name Halipa.

Meanwhile, Khalid said the five Tiger Platoon personnel who shot dead three members of a notorious cross-border kidnap gang led by Abraham@Ibrahim Hamid would be promoted by a rank for their daring act to keep the community safe.

They also captured two other members during the shootout in waters off Semporna on Dec 8.

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