$250 Ransom Demand Made for Indonesian Master
The Indonesian master of a fishing boat was kidnapped by gunmen off Sabah, Malaysia, on Wednesday with the ransom amount being asked unusually low.
Eastern Sabah Security Command director Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Khalid told The Star that the incident was unusual. Ransom calls were made demanding a thousand ringgit ($250) unlike Philippines-based cross border kidnap groups who demand millions of ringgit.
Investigators suspect there may be other motives behind the alleged kidnapping which occurred. The boat’s two crew were left on board, and they reported the incident on Friday when they returned to shore.
In July, ReCAAP issued an advisory about the recent spate of kidnappings off of Sabah. Since March, there have been six reported kidnapping incidents off Sabah involving five tugs and one trawler. Of 33 crewmembers abducted so far this year, 15 remain in captivity.
The attacks fit a consistent pattern:
• Slow-moving small vessels with low freeboard, making two or three knots, are seen as an easy target.
• Daylight hours facilitate boarding, and most incidents occurred in the middle of the day.
• The attackers work in groups of five or more – and in one instance, more than a dozen pirates were involved.
• All instances involved armed attackers and in two cases the pirates opened fire, suggesting that resistance may be dangerous.
• The crew were abducted but generally not harmed (with one notable exception in which a crewmember was shot).
• The crew appear to be the primary target, with theft of equipment or personal effects a secondary objective.
To address the problem, government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have held several meetings on regional security cooperation. ReCAAP is working closely with the Philippine Coast Guard to share best practice.