4 Malaysians reported seized by Abu Sayyaf
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—At least four Malaysians were kidnapped by suspected members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group off the east coast of Sabah on Friday evening.
A military source said about eight armed men in a motorized vessel intercepted a tugboat at around 6 in the evening and took captive its Malaysian operators.
The report came barely a week after gunmen kidnapped 10 Indonesians working on a tugboat in Tawi-Tawi and demanded P50 million for their release.
In the latest incident, the armed men, reportedly speaking in broken English and Filipino, declared that they were members of the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist terrorist organization that operates in the area.
The abductors also reportedly took a laptop, cash and the mobile phones of the victims.
The Abu Sayyaf were the likely perpetrators of the kidnapping, two different military sources told the Inquirer.
“We cannot confirm yet since everybody else uses that name (Abu Sayyaf) to identify their group. But there is a high probability,” one source said.
The other source said that, normally, the perpetrators would kidnap people and then turn them over to the Abu Sayyaf.
“Ultimately, it is the Abu Sayyaf that has a hold on the kidnap victims,” the other source said.
Both Inquirer sources cannot divulge their identities for lack of authority to discuss the matter as the military was still putting together details of the incident.
The armed men were said to have fled with the Malaysian captives towards one of the smaller islands off Sabah. The five other individuals in the boat, comprising Myanmar and Indonesian nationals, were released,” Malaysian authorities said. There were conflicting reports over whether the boat was sailing to Malaysia from the Philippines or the other way around.
Maj. Filemon Tan of the Western Mindanao Command, confirmed the kidnapping but said he was still putting together the details of the incident.
Tan said the Philippine military was informed of the incident by Malaysian authorities on Friday.
“Whether or not they were seized by the Abu Sayyaf or brought to the Philippines, we have yet to confirm,” Tan told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Sabah police commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun had told Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama that authorities were still investigating if the kidnapping occurred in Malaysian or international waters.
Other recent kidnappings included of two Canadian tourists and a Norwegian resort owner.
Last year, a Malaysian was kidnapped from a seaside restaurant in Sabah. He was later killed by the kidnap group.
The Abu Sayyaf has staged cross-border raids into Malaysia before, including in April 2000 when gunmen seized 21 European and Asian tourists from a dive resort. They were released in batches after ransom was paid the following year. With an AFP report
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