In the hands of Abu Sayyaf

Miss­ing crew of list­ing trawler be­lieved to be hostages in Jolo

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By MUGUNTAN VANAR [email protected]­

KOTA KIN­A­BALU: The three miss­ing crew of a San­dakan-based fish­ing trawler found list­ing with its engines run­ning are be­lieved to be in the Abu Sayyaf strong­hold of Jolo in the Philip­pines.

Re­gional in­tel­li­gence sources said a group of seven gun­men with three hostages landed on the Pata Pata islet next to Jolo on Fri­day night. They were taken to Pana­mao vil­lage.

The kid­nap vic­tims – re­port­edly In­done­sians work­ing for a San­dakan fish­ing com­pany – were taken at gun­point from their trawler in the Pe­ga­sus reef area in east­ern Sabah waters that borders the south­ern Philip­pines prov­ince of Tawi Tawi. They were ab­ducted on Wed­nes­day.

One of the vic­tims ap­par­ently made con­tact with a fam­ily mem­ber late Thurs­day night.

It was learnt that the vic­tim told the fam­ily mem­ber that they had been ab­ducted by gun­men and were on an is­land in the Philip­pines.

The sources also dis­closed that the fam­ily mem­ber was urged to seek the as­sis­tance of the In­done­sian con­sulate. There was no de­mand for ran­som.

Yes­ter­day, Sabah po­lice com­mis­sioner Datuk Omar Mammah dis­missed re­ports that a call had been made to the wife of one of the vic­tims.

Speak­ing to re­porters here, Comm Mammah said the wife told po­lice there was no such call telling her that her hus­band and the other crew mem­bers had been kid­napped.

“As of now, we are un­able to ver­ify if the crew were kid­napped,” he said, adding that the op­er­a­tion to lo­cate the miss­ing men was on­go­ing.

Re­gional in­tel­li­gence sources said the gun­men were led by Al Mu­jir Yadah, who is a mem­ber of the no­to­ri­ous Abu Sayyaf sub-com­man­der, Hatib Ha­jan Sawad­jan.

Hatib has teamed up with an­other sub- com­man­der, In­dang Susukan, to search for and kid­nap tar­gets in Sabah waters.

The sources said Al Mu­jir had been in­volved in lo­cal kid­nap­pings, in­clud­ing of po­lice­men in Jolo, but was despatched to the Tawi Tawi Is­lands to tar­get vic­tims of higher value.

The same group had also been in­volved in the shoot­ing of a tug­boat crew mem­ber dur­ing a botched kid­nap at­tempt in the Pe­ga­sus Reef area in Tam­bisan in La­had Datu at about 7.30pm on Wed­nes­day, the same day the In­done­sians were taken.

The In­done­sians are be­lieved to have been kid­napped while the gang was re­turn­ing to the Philip­pines.

On Wed­nes­day, the owner of the fish­ing com­pany lodged a po­lice re­port that he had lost con­tact with his crew, aged be­tween 19 and 40.

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