Militants free fishermen in 1st abduction of crew incident reported this year
NINE of the ten fishermen abducted last week by suspected Islamic State-linked Abu-Sayyaf militants off Borneo island have been released unharmed in the southern Philippines
NINE of the ten fishermen abducted last week by suspected Islamic State-linked Abu-Sayyaf militants off Borneo island have been released unharmed in the southern Philippines.
The heavily armed assailants snatched the fishermen on two boats in the early hours of June 18 off eastern Sabah state, in the Malaysian part of Borneo. Six others escaped, according to AFP.
A patrol team in Talipao town, Sulu province in the Philippines spotted the nine men walking along a road on June 21.
Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia, abbreviated as ReCP which include the Information Sharing Centre (ISC), said that after interviewing the men, they were confirmed to be the abducted crew (fishermen).
'They were released by their abductors who realised that the abducted crew had no money nor anything to give as ransom. One of the abducted crew is still missing,' ReCP ISC said, adding that this is the first abduction of crew incident reported in 2019. The last incident of abduction of crew occurred on December 5, 2018.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) thwarted an attempt by a group of men to steal items on board a tanker, the M T Ponier, in Teluk Ramunia waters, off Pengerang in the early hours of June 16.
The MMEA patrol team came across two wooden boats, both named 'Lima Sore' secured to the vessel that was anchored about 2.9 nautical miles south of Teluk Ramunia.
'Suspecting something amiss, the team conducted checks and came across four men attempting to cart away items on board, including metal scraps.'
All four perpetrators were arrested but two of the suspects escaped after one of the patrol boats experienced a breakdown on their way back to the Maritime base in Tanjung Pengelih, Malaysia.
As the risk of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah is high as demonstrated by the abduction of 10 fishermen, the ReCP ISC has reiterated its advisory to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible.
Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia.
The ReCP ISC urges ship masters and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the ReCP.