Three on fish­ing boat kid­napped off Malaysia

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THREE crew mem­bers on a Malaysian fish­ing trawler have been kid­napped in wa­ters where mil­i­tants from the Abu Sayyaf group have pre­vi­ously taken hostages, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

The in­ci­dent is be­lieved to have oc­curred late Septem­ber 10, off Pom Pom Is­land, a pop­u­lar scuba div­ing lo­ca­tion in the state of Sabah.

“The boat is Malaysian reg­is­tered,” Wan Ab­dul Bari Ab­dul Khalid, head of Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Se­cu­rity Com­mand, told AFP, without spec­i­fy­ing the na­tion­al­ity of the crew.

Author­i­ties did not com­ment whether they be­lieved the Abu Sayyaf was in­volved.

In May, the Abu Sayyaf re­leased 14 In­done­sian sailors who had been kid­napped in two high-seas raids, attacks that prompted In­done­sia, Malaysia and the Philip­pines to launch joint pa­trols.

In July, Malaysian po­lice said five Malaysian tug­boat crew were ab­ducted by the Abu Sayyaf off the coast of Sabah.

The Abu Sayyaf is a loose net­work of a few hun­dred Is­lamist mil­i­tants, formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda net­work, that has earned mil­lions of dol­lars from kid­nap­pings-for-ran­som.

Al­though its lead­ers have pledged al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State, an­a­lysts say they are mainly fo­cused on lu­cra­tive kid­nap­pings.

In April and June the group be­headed two Cana­dian tourists af­ter ran­som de­mands were not met, and a Malaysian was be­headed last year.

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte or­dered the mil­i­tary in Au­gust to ramp up its of­fen­sive against the ex­trem­ist group. –

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