KOTA KINABALU: Five Indonesian fishermen were abducted from the eastern edge of Sabah waters off Lahad Datu by kidnap-for-ransom groups linked to the notorious Abu Sayyaf groups from southern Philippines.
Six gunmen dressed in black overalls took the five of eight fishermen from their Sabah registered trawler during the incident in waters between Tambisan and Kuala Meruap in Lahad Datu close to the Philippines sea border at 8pm on Thursday (Jan 16).
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali said on Saturday (Jan 18) that the gunmen were in a speedboat and fled towards the neighbouring country after taking the five hostages.
He said that they have communicated with their counterparts in southern Philippines and are carrying out follow up operations in the area.
It was learned that around 1pm on Friday (Jan 17) local fishermen had informed marine police in Lahad Datu that they had spotted fishing nets in the area but could not find the trawler or its crew in the vicinity of the Tambisan waters.
Security forces under Esscom were dispatched to the area immediately and by 9pm (Friday), they located the trawler heading towards Tambisan before an elite Esscom squad boarded the trawler (SSK 00543) to find three crew members inside.
The kidnapped crewmen were the trawler's skipper Arsyad Dahlan, 41, La Baa, 32, Riswanto Hayano, 27, Edi Lawalopo, 53, and Syarizal Kastamiran, 29. All are Indonesians working for a Sandakan based fishing company.
Kidnap-for-ransom groups under the control of Abu Sayyaf gunmen Salip Murah and Mike Apo have been lurking along the sea borders between Sabah and Philippines' Tawi Tawi chain of islands in their hunt for value targets.
Tambisan waters which are hardly 10 minutes away from the Tawi Tawi islands have been a location for previous kidnappings due to its close proximity to Tawi Tawi.
Kidnap, Indonesian fishermen, Lahad Datu, Abu Sayyaf
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