“We view the incident as serious. The victims are believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines by a group linked to Abu Sayyaf,” MAF said in a statement.
The MAF said Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are involved in the Trilateral Maritime and Patrol (TMP) and Trilateral Air Patrol (TAP) to safeguard the waters around the Sulu Sea and Sabah’s east coast.
“We remain committed to ensuring that joint patrols are being conducted to the fullest and with other Malaysian enforcement agencies to strengthen the level of maritime safety in Sabah’s east coast,” it said.
On Jan 16, 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 the southern Philippines.
Six gunmen dressed in black took the five of eight fishermen from their Sabah registered trawler during the incident in waters between Tambisan and Kuala Meruap in Lahad Datu, closer to the Philippines sea border, at 8pm then.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali told reporters that they had communicated with their counterparts in the southern Philippines and are carrying out follow up operations in the area.
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