Police: Five Indonesian nationals abducted by Abu Sayyaf

  • Indonesia
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2020

A recent file photo of a Malaysian Maritime vessel patrolling the coast line of Lahad Datu.- The Star/ANN

JAKARTA: The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group has held hostage five Indonesian citizens in waters off Sabah in Malaysia, not far from the area where three other Indonesian sailors had been previously kidnapped.

The abduction took place on Thursday night when eight Indonesian nationals were fishing there, but three of them were released with their boat, according to a police statement obtained by Antara on Saturday (Jan 18).

According to the three freed sailors, six abductors in black masks aboard a speed boat captured the fishing vessel and brought it into the waters off the Philippines before allowing the three persons to leave for the Malaysian waters with the fishing boat, the statement said on Saturday.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Hazani Ghazali said on Saturday that the gunmen were in a speedboat and fled towards the neighbouring country after taking the five hostages.

Around 1pm on Friday, local fishermen told 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 Tambisan vicinity.

By 9pm, Esscom security forces located the trawler heading towards Tambisan and an elite squad boarded the trawler to find three crew members inside.

The kidnapped crewmen are 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.

Kidnapping groups under the control of Abu Sayyaf gunmen Salip Murah and Mike Apo have been lurking along the sea borders between Sabah and the Philippines' Tawi Tawi chain of islands in their hunt for value targets.

On Jan 5, Indonesia and the Philippines jointly freed 27-year-old Muhammad Farhan, one of the three Indonesian nationals abducted by Abu Sayyaf group since September 2019. Previously, two of his sailor fellows had been set free.

The latest kidnapping has raised the number of Indonesian citizens kidnapped by the group to 41 since 2016, and most of them were released, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. - Xinhua/Straits Times/ Asian News Network
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