4 Indon sailors seized in fresh sea kidnapping PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 April 2016 14:13

By DAN TORIBIO JR.

 

Suspected Abu Sayyaf kidnappers struck for the third time in two weeks taking four Indonesian sailors and killed another on board a tugboat off Tawi-Tawi Friday night.

Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said about five to seven gunmen attacked Indonesian crew aboard T/B Henry near Pondo Sibugal, Sitangkai past 6 p.m.

One of the crew tried to escape and was shot dead.

The kidnappers then brought with them the four other crew identified as MochA nyato—boat skipper, Lorens MPS—chief officer, DedeErfan Hami—2nd officer and a certain Samir—seaman.

The kidnappers with the sailed towards Sulu area.

Five other unharmed crew and the body of their companion were rescued and retrieved by Malaysian authorities.

The tugboat loaded with coal was sailing from Cebu back to Tarakan in Indonesian Borneo when the abduction occurred.

The AFP said it is still investigating if the Abu Sayyaf Group is behind the abduction. No armed group has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, as of press time.

“I cannot, as of now, identify who is behind this. That would be near speculation,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told ANC. “It’s hard to tell... There are so many groups that are doing so many abductions.”

Tan noted that there are also pirates operating in the area who might be riding on the kidnapping activities of the ISIS aligned militant group.

Last month, 10 Indonesian crew members on board another tugboat were also seized by suspected \Abu Sayyaf gunmen  near the Malaysian border and reportedly taken to Sulu.

On April 1, four Malaysian sailors were also kidnapped from a ship near Sabah’s Ligitan island. Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnappings, beheadings, bombings and extortion, is one of the most hardline Islamist militant groups in the Muslim south.

According to the AFP, it will meet with Malaysian counterparts to discuss how to solve the continuing conflicts along the borders of the Philippines and Malaysia.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has imposed a temporary ban on the trade route between Sabah and the southern Philippines in a bid to curb kidnappings.

“The government has suspended barter trade between the two regions until a comprehensive plan is formulated to ensure the safety and security of Sabah state. It is a temporary ban,” marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah told AFP.

“We have deployed marine police boats along with ships from the maritime enforcement agency and the navy to enforce the ban,” he added.

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Kuala Lumpur-based Piracy Reporting Centre, said the shipping community had expressed concern over the rise in attacks.

“Everyone is concerned as the attacks could hurt trade. Operating costs will go up if they were to use a longer but safer route,” he said. — With reports from AFP