THIRD SNATCHING IN LESS THAN A MONTH

Abu rebels abduct Indonesian sailors

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Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen hijacked a tugboat off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi near the Sabah border and abducted four Indonesian sailors. They shot and injured another crew before escaping on a speedboat.

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CAPTIVES Abu Sayyaf jihadists released a photo of the four Malaysian hostages -- Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21. They were kidnapped on April 2 in Semporna, Sabah. The photo was uploaded on Facebook.

CAPTIVES Abu Sayyaf jihadists released a photo of the four Malaysian hostages — Wong Teck Kang, 31, Wong Hung Sing, 34, Wong Teck Chii, 29, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21. They were kidnapped on April 2 in Semporna, Sabah. The photo was uploaded on Facebook.

Five other sailors, including the wounded crew member 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 Semporna district in Tawau town, and the rest of the crewmen filed their police report in Lahad Datu town, also in Sabah.

“The incident happened late Friday in international waters. Four Indonesian seamen were abducted by the kidnappers. One man was shot and is being treated at a hospital,” Sabah police chief Abdul Rashid Harun told Agence France-Presse.

The tugboat carrying coal was sailing from Cebu in the Philippines back to Tarakan in Borneo when the kidnapping occurred.

In a bid to curb kidnappings, Malaysia has imposed a temporary ban on the trade route between Sabah and the southern Philippines.

“The government has suspended barter trade between the two regions until a comprehensive plan is formulated to ensure the safety and security of Sabah state. It is a temporary ban,” marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah said.

“We have deployed marine police boats along with ships from the maritime enforcement agency and the navy to enforce the ban,” he added.

The tugboat was heading to Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan in Indonesia from the Philippines when gunmen intercepted them late Friday.

On March 26, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also snatched 10 Indonesian crew of the tugboat Brahma 12 off Languyan town in Tawi-Tawi—one of five provinces of the volatile Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—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 photo, which was uploaded on Facebook, showed the captives squatting and one of them holding a piece of paper with the word “Victor Troy” and the date “April 8, 2016 written on it. They are believed being held by Abu Sayyaf commanders Hatid Hajan Sawajaan and Alhabsi Misaya in the southern Philippines.

Concerned
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Kuala Lumpur-based Piracy Reporting Center, said the shipping community had expressed concern over the rise in attacks.

“Everyone is concerned as the attacks could hurt trade. Operating costs will go up if they were to use a longer but safer route,” he said.

“IMB fears such attacks will continue to escalate. How can seamen defend themselves against militants armed with high-powered guns and fast boats?” he added.

Philippine authorities have failed to stop the cross-border kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf in the oil-rich state of Sabah. Just recently, two Filipino generals were sacked for failing to stop the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings in Sabah.

The Abu Sayyaf had in the past beheaded a Malaysian hostage and killed a maritime policeman in a raid on a popular resort in Sabah.

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman said the decades-old barter trade activity in Sandakan and other east coastal towns was to be ceased immediately, according to the Jakarta Post.

Musa also ordered security forces to seize any foreign motorized boats in Sabah waters. He said security forces will also give protection to merchant boats sailing in high-risk areas in Sabah, particularly near the Philippine border.

He also shelved a propose ferry services—to start in May—between Kudat in Sabah and Palawan province in the Philippines. The strict measures reflected Sabah government’s resolve to rid the east coast of the menace posed by kidnap-for-ransom groups based in southern Philippines.

“The state government takes these kidnappings very seriously. The new measures to be taken will ensure this problem can be dealt with effectively,” Musa said.

“We are also studying in-depth prevention and rectification measures to deal with hijacking and kidnapping involving merchant ships in high-risk waters. The security forces are currently looking into how we can provide better security protection for ships in these waters. However its implementation requires cooperation from all ship owners to enable effective coordination,” he added.

WITH AFP

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  1. …as a Filipino residing in one of these ‘volatile provinces’ of the ARMM, I can’t help to raise some points which could have been long-thought of by the recognized experts on national security or perhaps, long-shrugged- off by the elite decision-makers for one reason or another… First, my ‘common tao’ mentality says the national government, our government, if I may say, has been establishing essential maritime border security measures for decades now; thus, BRPs and their smaller patrol vessels have been plying maritime border perimeters from i -don’t-know-where passing Sulu Sea; a couple of days’ re-fueling, re-supplying provisions at either Bongao Port or Batu-batu Naval base then off sailing onto Celebes Sea to wherever the country’s borders with neighbor countries lie. Regularly, I personally see one of the BRPs anchored at Bongao Port or hear an acquaintance talks about ‘naval boat’ scheduled sail to either Turtle Islands or Mapun….These are information saying that BRPs regularly do patrol for national border security. Meanwhile, another national law enforcement agency is mandated to make Zambasulta maritime jurisdiction safe and secure to all maritime stakeholders thereat; and for more than a year, we personally have knowledge of the unit’s regular maritime patrol to perimeters that logistics( in which primary concern is, please indulge this semi-literate for using, ‘sea-bility’ rather than sea-worthiness of patrol vessels besides the required sufficiency in number of vessels) higher unit provides (which we all know for a fact that is mainly dependent on the entire unit’s share from the over-all and not too sufficient budget allocated to PNP in the GAA)….and at the highest point of the mystic Bud Bongao, the Coast Watch lies with a strategic ‘surveillance and monitoring’ edge over those assigned sailing in boats…..WHY then such strategic deployment of internal and national security assets have not yielded what is collectively aimed-for? As an ordinary citizen doing double-time in maximizing little efforts for whatever minute routine functionality can be achieved by the community itself, I do not have the kind of trainings the high-esteemed policy and decision-makers have, neither the vast multitude of Pinoys subsisting on what the seas provide and on what our noble back door traders can haul into the wooden hulls of their lithe motor launches from nearby Sabah to complete what we need as basic commodities for basic survival-less-costly quality rice, cooking oil, noodles, coffee, sugar, LPG, and yes, fuel… Let not a common tao, then point-out the long-list of insufficiency that our country has been sleeping-on in the prioritization of practical yet focused measures of ensuring and actualizing national security as a daily condition of each of our border communities’ volatile lives….. Operable vessels, technologically-sound equipment, dedicated and trained personnel, strategically cross-cutting national and internal security programs,plans, and activities are obviously the common deficiencies varying only in degrees per unit …If addressed the soonest, in no time at all, will emerge an over-all upgraded capability for all stakeholders in the collective responsibility of establishing safe, peaceful and secured communities situated along the country’s coastal borders.

    In my every now and then commune with the sea, its waves, winds, and scents, either with the blaring sun at mid-day or sunset, seeing giant ships coursing in snail-like pace the entirety of the international seaways this aging sight allows, makes goose bumps always wanting to send this coward-of-a- woman some morbid thoughts of ‘aliens’ suddenly doing an L-course of their gigantic boats assaulting women, children, and men with whatever they got in there…. Morbid?Nope, as in less than a month’s time, what we have in terms of internal and national security have been proven, to an extent objectionable by individual views on how things should be, to be wanting in physical coverage, strategical depth, and focused-substance that mere local terror/ KFR group and its loose network of accessories simply got away with two-rows of group abduction.