KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — Three fishermen have been abducted by gunmen in Sabah waters near the tourist resort of Pulau Pom Pom off Semporna.
The suspected seven-member Filipino armed group is believed to have taken the victims across the border towards the southern Philippines island chain of Tawi Tawi province.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid confirmed that they received a report from the owners of the fishing trawler at 1:59 a.m. Sunday.
“I can only confirm. Sabah police commissioner (Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun) will release the details later,” he said when contacted.
The owner of the fishing boat confirmed that the gunmen kidnapped the skipper and two crew members at about 10:20 p.m. on Saturday.
It is believed that the three fishermen said to be Filipino Badjaos were among a crew of 11 on the trawler when seven kidnappers confronted them at gunpoint.
The kidnappers only took three crewmen and fled in a green-colored fast boat towards southern Philippines. The rest of the crew steered the trawler back to the Semporna jetty.
The incident came hardly two days after Esscom conducted an intensive operations against cross border smugglers in the five districts in the east coast.
Esscom has said that security forces were on high alert along the border as the Philippine military had launched a massive all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo./rga