GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Naval forces have tightened security in the Sulu Sea following the abduction of three Indonesian fishermen off Semporna town in Sabah, Malaysia, a military official said on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, said the military was now conducting joint border patrols with Indonesian and Malaysian forces to block the suspects’ possible escape routes.
“We still have no information who abducted them. So far, there’s no update [from the Malaysian authorities],” Besana said in an online interview.
Malaysia’s The Star newspaper reported that two “armed Bahasa Suluk-speaking suspects,” snatched the three victims just as their boat docked at the jetty at Semporna.
Bahasa Suluk is a regional dialect spoken in Sulu.
Sabah’s police chief, Datuk Omar Mammah, said the authorities were investigating whether the suspects belonged to the Abu Sayyaf Group, the report said.
The abduction was the first incident of its kind in the region in two years, the report added.
Besana said the abduction was discussed during Western Mindanao’s Regional Peace and Order Council meeting in Zamboanga City on Wednesday.
Naval officials said during the meeting that the suspects’ outrigger boat could not possibly reach Sulu without being refueled in the high seas, he said.
Besana also could not say if the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnap-for-ransom crimes in the region, had a hand in the abduction.—BONG S. SARMIENTO
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