Abu Sayyaf kidnap 3 Indonesian fishermen off Sabah?

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The police and military have mobilized their intelligence units to verify reports that three Indonesian fishermen snatched in the waters off Sabah on Monday were brought to Tawi-Tawi. 

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said personnel of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi and police intelligence units are monitoring the whereabouts of the victims. 

A source told The STAR that Abu Sayyaf bandits were behind the kidnapping. He also confirmed reports that  the victims were brought to Tawi-Tawi.

However, Encinas said such claims have yet to be validated.

As of yesterday, Encinas said Malaysian authorities were conducting search and rescue operation near the area where the fishermen were seized. 

Malaysian authorities said they received reports that gunmen on two pumpboats snatched the fishermen in the waters off Lahad Datu. 

The kidnapping occurred as Malaysian, Indonesian and Philippine security forces intensified trilateral border patrol to prevent hijackings and kidnappings at their common border.

Last June, a lawless group based in Malaysia was tagged in the kidnapping of 10 fishermen off the coast of Lahad Datu. 

In January, a Malaysian and two Indonesian fishermen kidnapped off the coast of Sabah were  reportedy brought to Sulu and turned over to Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Malaysian authorities said lawless groups who were behind the kidnappings could have ties with the Abu Sayyaf.

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