A group of armed men kidnapped the Malaysian owner of a trawler and robbed the crew of another fishing vessel off Sabah last night, said police.
Sabah Police Commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun said today the incidents happened in the Pulau Gaya waters of Semporna and the Tungku waters of Lahad Datu, respectively, at about 9.30pm and 10pm yesterday.
The two boats were five nautical miles apart, and a speed boat could cover the distance in about 30 minutes, he told reporters here.
Abdul Rashid identified the kidnapped trawler owner as Ruslan Sarapin, 39.
He said Ruslan was kidnapped by six armed men at about 9.30pm as he and his 26 crew were fishing.
“The kidnappers came to the trawler in a speedboat and were armed with M14 and M16 guns.
“Four of them boarded the trawler and ransacked the boat. Then they took the owner captive and also grabbed all documents, personal belongings and the mobile telephones of all the crew,” he said.
Twenty-five of the crew were foreigners and one, a Malaysian, he said.
At 10.05pm, a speedboat with seven armed men, suspected to be the group of kidnappers, approached a fishing boat with 19 crew in the Tungku waters of Lahad Datu.
Seven men carrying firearms boarded and ransacked the boat, and they robbed the crew of outboard engines, rice, cooking oil, clothing, mobile telephones and RM300 in cash, he said.
They then sped off in their boat towards international waters, he added.
Abdul Rashid said a check revealed that the two fishing vessels had been operating within the curfew area off Sabah and did not carry an exemption permit from the respective district police chiefs.
“The vessels were also not equipped with the Automatic Identification System and communication gadgets recommended by the authorities,” he said.