ZAMBOANGA CITY: Malaysian police forces clashed with suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels killing three of them off Semporna City in Sabah after they attacked at least two sea trawlers.
The Malaysian media said police captured two more gunmen and rescued a fishing boat captain, believed to be a Filipino holding a special identity card.
Another skipper, however, was abducted by the two gunmen who escaped at the height of the firefight.
A policeman was wounded in the Thursday attack.
At least seven gunmen onboard a speedboat entered Sabah from Tawi-Tawi and seized the two skippers.
Unknown to the gunmen, a boat operated by General Operations Force Tiger Platoon in the area to protect the fishing boats engaged the raiders in a sea battle.
The identities of those killed in the clash were not immediately known but police were interrogating those captured.
The Philippine military did not give any statement on the cross-border raid.
It was not known how the gunmen managed to sneak into Sabah without being detected by the Philippine Navy, Marines and the Coast Guard deployed near the border.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he gave permission to Malaysian authorities to pursue and destroy Abu Sayyaf kidnappers inside Philippine territory.