ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine military on Monday said it is exchanging intelligence with Malaysia following the abduction of three fishermen by suspected Filipino gunmen in Sabah.
Seven gunmen abducted the trio in a daring cross-border raid into the rich Malaysian state just off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi on September 10.
The armed men on board two green speedboats intercepted the trawler near the island of Pompom off Semporna town and snatched its skipper and two other crew. Four other crew members were left unharmed and reported the incident to their employer.
The Western Mindanao Command, citing Malaysian intelligence report, said the seven armed men sped off toward the direction of Alice reef and Bulubulu Island of Tawi-Tawi.
“Coordination and intelligence sharing and exchange with Eastern Sabah Security Command is now being done,” it said without further details.
The fishing company immediately reported the abduction to the police before dawn the next day. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the latest abduction, but Sabah authorities said the gunmen fled towards Tawi-Tawi, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.
The incident happened as the Philippine military continues its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan provinces.
It was not immediately known whether the militant group was involved in the abduction, but the Abu Sayyaf is still holding over a dozen hostages, including Malaysian and Indonesian tugboat crewmen, a Norwegian man, a Japanese and Filipinos.