5 Malaysians feared abducted near Tawi-Tawi, Sabah
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Five Malaysians went missing and believed to have been kidnapped in the waters between Tawi-Tawi and Sabah, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Tuesday.
Dureza said based on the report he got on Monday, Malaysian authorities recovered an unmanned tugboat and a barge drifting off Lahad Datu in Sabah.
The tugboat TB Serundung3, which was towing the barge Serundung4, earlier sailed to Sandakan to deliver a load of stones and was returning to Semporna when its crew went missing. The vessel was scheduled to arrive in Semporna at 8 a.m. Monday.
The five crewmen have been identified as Abdurahim Summas, 62, Mohammad Zumadil Rahim, 23, Fandy Bakran, 26, all from Sabah; Tayudin Anjut, 45, from Sarawak; and Mohammed Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from the Malaysian peninsula.
“When Malaysian authorities recovered the vessels on the said date, it was found out that its crew were already missing and believed to be abducted,” Dureza said.
Sabah Police Commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun was quoted by Malaysian media as saying they were not “ruling out the possibility of the five being kidnapped.”
“We do not rule out the possibility of the five being kidnapped,” Abdul Rashid told reporters in Lahad Datu on Tuesday.
He said that no calls were received by the families of the crew of the tugboat, which was found listing in Sabah waters.
Rashid also dismissed talk that the owner of the tugboat had received a call late Monday and that the kidnappers had demanded a P200 million ransom and had also spoken to the victims.
“There has been no calls,’” he said.
Rashid said all aspects of the “disappearance” of the five crew were being investigated.
It is not known what time or where they were abducted but their empty tugboat Serundung3 was found at 2 p.m. on Monday listing in waters off Dent Haven in Tambisan area of Lahad Datu, close to the sea border with the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.
The owner of the company which owned the tugboat, a 66-year-old from Tawau, reported to police that his crew was missing and that company officials were informed by other sailors from Sabah Tugboats that Serundung3, with its engine running, was spotted in Dent Haven waters.
There are fears that the five could have been kidnapped by a notorious kidnap for ransom group linked to the Abu Sayyaf.
But the Western Mindanao Command and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police said they have not received any report of foreigners disappearing or abducted in the waters between Tawi-Tawi and Malaysia this week.
Senior Supt. Elizaldi Quibuyen, the provincial police director of Tawi-Tawi, said they have not received any advisory either.
“So far, we have checked the stations of Sitangkai and Sibutu. (There was) no report about any unusual movement or abduction,” Quibuyen said.
In recent days, suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits had targeted Malaysian and Indonesian crewmen of ships sailing on the sea borders of Tawi-Tawi and Sabah. With a report from The Star/Asia News Network
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