KOTA KINABALU: Philippine security forces are believed to have rescued nine out the 10 sea gypsies kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf gunmen on June 18.
The victims were recovered at Toyang village in Talipao on Jolo Island early Saturday (June 22), according to intelligence reports coming from Philippines.
Sources said the nine who were recovered are believed to be among the 10 fishermen kidnapped at 2.20am in waters off Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The victims were believed to be sea gypsies, commonly known as Bajau Laut or Pelahu.
"They are still getting details from the victims. We do not know where one more victim is," said the source.
The incident puzzled security forces as kidnappers would not have been able to demand any ransom for the return of the sea gypsies.
Sources said the victims were possibly abandoned in Jolo after kidnappers realised they would not be able to negotiate for a ransom.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah confirmed receiving reports of the rescue mission but did not have immediate details.
It was learned that 16 fishermen in two fishing boats were plying the waters during curfew hours without a permit on June 18.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen 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.
The remaining six fishermen were earlier rescued by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).