Malaysian silent on abducted sailors
TAWI-TAWI - Kuala Lumpur remains silent over the abductions of 4 Malaysian sailors off Sabah’s Semporna district.
Gunmen have reportedly fled towards Tawi-Tawi province in the restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.
At least 8 gunmen on a speedboat intercepted the tugboat MasFive 6 near Ligitan Island on April 1 and abducted Wong Hung Song, 44, Wong Teck Pang, 41, Wong Teck Chi, 39, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21 – all from Sarawak in Sabah.
Five other sailors – Two Indonesians and three Burmese – were left behind in the boat and reported the attack on Malaysian authorities. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the latest abductions and Philippine authorities have not released any reports about this.
The tugboat was heading to the coastal town of Tawau in Sabah – after delivering timber in the Philippines - when gunmen raided the vessel.
Just recently, pirates also attacked another tugboat, Brahma 12, off Tawi-Tawi province while sailing back to Sabah and kidnapped 10 Indonesian sailors and demanded $1 million for their lives.
The kidnappers, believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf under Alhabsi Misaya, were negotiating with the boat owner Patria Maritime Lines for the safe release of the victims, who are allegedly being held in Sulu province in southern Philippines.
Sulu Governor Totoh Tan, chairman of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, and Vice Governor Sakur Tan convened the special action committee and met with representatives of various law enforcement agencies, the police and military authorities and town mayors of Jolo, Talipao, Indanan, Pata, Panamao, Kalinggalan Caluang to tackle the reported kidnappings and other security concerns.
The report of the kidnappings was first reported by Peter Tonsen Barahama, the tug boat’s skipper, after he wrote on his Facebook account that “Tug boat Brahma 12 is being hijacked, all crew are being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf. Pray for our safety and God’s protection.”
Pirates and other criminal gangs are also actively operating in Tawi-Tawi, one of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In February 2012, Abu Sayyaf rebels under subleader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Moro National Liberation Front members kidnapped two European wildlife photographers Lorenzo Vinciguerra, from Switzerland; and Ewold Horn, 54, from Holland, in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi.
Vinciguerra had escaped from his guards in December 2014 after he allegedly killed one of his guards - Juhurim Hussien with a bolo and recovered by soldiers. The fate of Horn is still unknown, and aside from him, the Abu Sayyaf is still holding several other foreigners in the Muslim region.