Three on fishing boat kidnapped off Malaysia
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. –