ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen hijacked a tugboat off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi near the Sabah border and abducted four Indonesian crewmen as well as shot and wounded another before escaping on a speedboat, a military intelligence report said.
It added that five other sailors, including the wounded crewmember of tugboat Henry, sailed to the Malaysian border where they were rescued by Malaysian authorities.
The latest abduction was the third carried out by the Abu Sayyaf since last month.
The wounded sailor, whose identity was not immediately known, was rushed to the Semporna district of Tawau town, in Sabah, and the rest of the crewmen filed their police report in Lahad Datu town.
The tugboat was heading to Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan in Indonesia from the Philippines when gunmen intercepted them late Friday, the military intelligence report said.
On March 26, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also snatched 10 Indonesian crewmembers of the tugboat Brahma 12 off Languyan town in Tawi-Tawi – one of five provinces in the volatile Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – while heading to Sabah.
The Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped four Malaysian crewmen of another tugboat, MasFive 6, at sea in Semporma on April 2. The jihadist group also released a photo, dated April 8, of the Malaysian hostages Wong Teck Kang, 31; Wong Hung Sing, 34; Wong Teck Chii, 29; and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21 – all from Sarawak.
The latest abduction came despite Sabah’s closing of its cross-border trade with Tawi-Tawi, just several hours by boat from the Malaysian state, following the spate of daring kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf inside its territory. AL JACINTO