A kidnap for ransom group is behind the abduction of the three fishermen in Sabah waters near the tourist resort of Pulau Pom Pom off Semporna, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reported The Star.
“This group moves in the southern Philippines, specifically near islands located in the vicinity of Malaysian waters,” said Zahid.
Zahid said the three victims were not Malaysian citizens but permanent residents told the media after attending the 8th annual general meeting of the Makkal Sakti party here Sunday.
“We have done a lot of surveillance in the area but the groups have managed to operate ‘under the radar’, so I have informed Esscom (Eastern Sabah Security Command), MMEA (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency) and navy to fully monitor the 1,700km long area fully,” he said.
He also said authorities were facing several obstacles, including in terms of equipment, adding that Esscom would soon receive the equipment needed to carry out their duties efficiently.
It was reported that a suspected seven-member Filipino armed group is believed to have taken the victims across the border towards the southern Philippines island chain of Tawi Tawi province.
Esscom commander Wan Abdul Bari Abdul Khalid confirmed that they received a report from the owners of the fishing trawler at 1.59am Sunday.
The owner of the fishing boat had said the gunmen kidnapped the skipper and two crew members at about 10.20pm on Saturday.