THREE permanent residents of Malaysia have been abducted near Pom Pom Island in Sabah, Malaysia’s home minister has confirmed.
The three fishermen were believed to have been abducted by a group of seven armed men, according to local newspaper The Star, and were reportedly taken towards the Tawi Tawi province in southern Philippines.
Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Malaysian government has contacted the Philippine military and police for help securing their release. He also confirmed that they were not Malaysians, but were permanent residents in the country.
“The KFR (kidnap-for-ransom) group operates near the southern Philippines, near Malaysian islands, and although the authorities monitor the waters closely, this group moves under the radar.
“I have contacted the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chief (Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid) and urged him to keep an eye on the 1,700km area in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone,” he was quoted saying in the New Straits Times.
It was not expressly stated but it is believed that the latest abduction was the work of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Muslim terror network operating out of southern Philippines said to be responsible for most of the kidnappings that take place on Sabah’s porous borders.
The abduction was confirmed by the owner of the fishing boat at 10.20pm. On Thursday, the Esscom carried out sweeping operations against smugglers in the east coast.
Esscom said that security forces are on high alert along the border. However, abductions by Filipino gunmen remain common in Sabah despite Esscom’s formation in 2013.
In July, three Indonesians were kidnapped by gunmen from a tugboat off the east coast of Sabah.