KUALA LUMPUR—Armed men seized a fisherman off Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state, an area where militants from the Abu Sayyaf group have been blamed for a series of abductions, an official said Wednesday.
Malaysian marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah told AFP that the kidnappers came in a fast craft and headed in the direction of southern Philippine waters after the incident.
“One fisherman was snatched late last night,” Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid, head of Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Security Command, told AFP.
“The attack was carried out by six suspects, some armed with M-16 rifles.”
Khalid made his statement even as two more members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group were killed and three others wounded following a series of encounters between troopers and the bandits in Panamao, Sulu, Wednesday morning, an official said Wednesday.
A soldier was also slightly wounded by shrapnel and was recuperating at the Camp Bautista Hospital in Jolo, Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega said.
In the House, Rep. Jericho Nograles on Wednesday asked the police and military to get to the bottom of reports that high-powered firearms and ammunition were seized during a raid that resulted in the arrest of gunrunners allegedly supplying weapons to terrorists and warlords in Mindanao.
Authorities conducted the raid in the gunrunners’ base near the police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Nograles said the guns and weapons seized were government-issued, and that a lifestyle check was needed on civilian and military personnel who had access to the armaments being produced in a plant in Bataan.
The Malaysian victim who owned the fishing boat where the fisherman was seized was with 20 other sailors when he was taken, the Star online news reported.
The incident happened well inside Malaysian waters off Semporna’s Gaya island, which is a short ride away from Philippines waters.
Authorities did not say if they believed the Abu Sayyaf bandits, who are notorious for kidnapping for ransom, were involved.
Early this month, three fisherman were seized by armed militants in nearby waters and taken to the southern Philippines.
The latest kidnapping comes after two Islamic militants linked to the abductions of 26 Malaysian and Indonesian sailors this year were killed Tuesday off a remote Philippine island.
Nixon Muktadil and his brother Brown Muktadil were members of the Abu Sayyaf group who helped snatch crew members of five tugboats carrying coal and other commodities on waters bordering Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network, and which has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.
Although its leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, analysts say they are mainly focused on lucrative kidnappings. With PNA and Maricel V. Cruz