KOTA KINABALU: Suspected Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen are believed to have abducted 10 fishing crewmen in Sabah waters close to the Tawi Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.
The two fishing boats were in Lahad Datu's Tambisan waters and heading towards Semporna when they were hijacked by gunmen, believed to be heavily armed, in speedboats at about 2am Tuesday (June 18).
The identities and nationalities of the victims have yet to be ascertained.
The victims are all believed to be Filipinos holding the Lepa Lepa documents issued in the 1970s.
Unconfirmed reports said the gunmen were in two speedboats when they approached the fishing boats.
They were believed to have taken four of the six crewmen in the first fishing boat and six of the 10 crew members in the second boat.
They were believed to have fled towards the southern Philippines island of Sitangkai which is only about a 15 minute speedboat ride from Sabah's Tambisan waters.
When contacted, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said they were aware of the kidnapping incident but have yet to receive any official reports.
It was learned that the two fishing boats were plying the waters
during curfew hours without a permit.
The remaining six fishermen, who were rescued by the Malaysian Maritime
Enforcement Agency (MMEA), claimed they were heading to Semporna to renew their permits.