Kidnap-for-ransom group may be behind kidnapping in Semporna waters

Avila Geraldine

KOTA KINABALU: A kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group may be behind the kidnapping of the two Indonesian fishermen working on a local fishing vessel in Semporna waters in the small hours of the morning today.

Acting Sabah police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah confirmed this, revealing the latest abduction incident involving skipper Samsul Saguni, 40 and his assistant Usman Yunus, 35, occured between 12am and 1am. “We believed the kidnappers belong to a KFR group and we are looking into this, including whether the group is linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). “The surroundings was dark when the kidnapping occurred but the two abductors were seen wearing face masks and clad in dark clothing.

“Both suspects were also believed to be armed with M16 firearms based on the description given by another fisherman, who was hiding at the time of incident,” he said, adding all Indonesian fishermen hold valid passports. Omar was speaking to reporters when met at the State level Ma’al Hijrah celebration at Wisma Muis, here. Also present was Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. Omar noted there were four fishermen on board when the two kidnappers stormed their fishing boat, adding two of the fishermen managed to hide. He also said no shooting took place and the kidnappers fled with their victims in a boat to an unknown location. “We are not sure whether they are still in Sabah waters or otherwise but police have launched an operation to hunt down the kidnappers,” he said.

He noted Semporna was a curfew zone area but the fishing boat’s owner, a local operator, has applied for a permit to fish during curfew time. Omar also said police would alert and update the Indonesian consulate and counterparts on the matter. Meanwhile, Shafie stressed the state government would assist Indonesia and ensure action wast taken to strengthen the state security. “The people’s lives have to be protected no matter who they are … They were abducted in our waters and therefore it’s our responsibility to assist our neighboring country. “I will instruct for follow-up action. Although they are Indonesians, we will assist in strengthening patrol operations and information intelligence on their whereabouts so immediate action can be taken,” he said. This is the first kidnapping incident in Sabah waters in almost two years. The last one on December 8, 2016 saw security forces gunning down three abductors and apprehending two after an exhange of fire at Semporna waters. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd