High alert over Abu Sayyaf

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 02 Oct 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has mobilised assets to key areas after Philippine intelligence reports indicate Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen were on their way to kidnap high-value targets.

Esscom commander Datuk Huzani Ghazali said this came about following intelligence reports on the movement of the group.

“We are on high alert, ” he said when contacted.

The intelligence reports on Sept 30 said that nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen left their Jolo stronghold and were heading towards Sabah’s Mataking and Pom Pom island in Semporna.

According to the reports, the group was targeting tourists and crew members of fishing vessels.

Mataking, which is dotted with holiday resorts, is close to the sea border of the Philippines’ Tawi Tawi island chain.

In November 2013, a Taiwanese tourist was kidnapped and her male friend killed by gunmen at a resort on Pom Pom island.

The last kidnapping incident was on Sept 23 when assailants on a pump boat grabbed three Indonesians during a noon raid on a Sabah-registered fishing trawler in Lahad Datu’s Tambisan waters.

Regional intelligence sources said the three Indonesians were being held by Abu Sayyaf kidnapper Majan Sahijuan @Apo Mike, who comes under Commander Idang Susukan on Jolo island.

Sources said that the family of these victims were seeking help from the Indonesian government.

It is not known how much ransom the gunmen were demanding.

Huzani said that following discussions between Esscom and a state security working committee, they were studying the option of imposing a 24-hour curfew in two or three areas so that no boats would be allowed entry there.

Another area being looked at was a review of the use of pump boats in the east coast, he said, adding that perhaps only one engine would be allowed to be fitted on such boats.

He said they were re-registering pump boats in the east coast and colour-coding them by district.

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