A source in the military said authorities are “not sure” if Abu Sayyaf bandits are behind the kidnapping, noting that there are a number of lawless gangs operating in Sabah.
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Malaysian bandits tagged in kidnapping off Sabah
Roel Pareño, Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2019 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — A lawless group based in Malaysia may be behind the kidnapping of 10 fishermen off Lahad Datu in Sabah on Tuesday, according to the military. 

“Kidnappings have been occurring in that area of Malaysia and we are looking at a certain Mameh, a Malaysian lawless group, as the perpetrators,” Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command spokesman and civil military chief, said yesterday. 

A source in the military said authorities are “not sure” if Abu Sayyaf bandits are behind the kidnapping, noting that there are a number of lawless gangs operating in Sabah.

“Abu Sayyaf or not, Malaysian security forces must deal with these lawless groups in their own backyard... When these lawless groups cross into our waters it is our responsibility to deal with these militants if indeed they are Abu Sayyaf,” the source said.

Besana said soldiers in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were asked to be on the lookout for the kidnappers and their captives.

”We’re not letting our guards down. Ground operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits will continue. On the recent kidnapping, there’s no confirmation yet whether the hostages are in Sulu or Tawi-Tawi,” he said.

The kidnappers seized 10of the 16 fishermen aboard the  fishing boat Kru Felda Sahabat 9 at about 2:45 a.m. 

The suspects were wearing military uniform and speaking in Malay, according to the fishermen who managed to  escape toward Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi.

 The captives were identified only as Ogan, 20; Bongosan, 30; Samsul, 22; Hj. Kando, 60; Amil, 31; Inai, 22; Kassim, 22; Memes, 28, and a 17-year-old,  all members of  the Bajau tribe and holders of Lepa-Lepa Sabah document.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

In January, a Malaysian and two Indonesian fishermen were snatched in the waters off Sabah. The victims were brought to Sulu and turned over to Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Malaysian authorities said the kidnappers could have ties with the Abu Sayyaf.

ABU SAYYAF KIDNAPPING
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