Police: Abu Sayyaf Kidnapping Victims Unharmed
The three Filipino crewmembers kidnapped from a Malaysian fishing vessel off Semporna last Saturday are still being held captive, but they are safe, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun told reporters Friday.
“Contact has been established with regard to the recent kidnapping last week," he said. “The phone call was made to inform us that the kidnapped victims are safe, among others details which I will not divulge." Rashid said that the police are still working to verify the authenticity of the phone call, and that the authorities are in contant with Philippine government counterparts regarding the situation.
Media reports suggest that the three are being held in Jolo by a group under Abu Sayyaf commander Majan Sahidjuan, known as "Apo Mike."
Five Malaysians are also being held by the same group, and these captives are also believed to be safe.
In the attack last Saturday, masked men carrying M16 assault rifles boarded a trawler near Pulau Pom Pom, Sabah. They captured three Filipino members of the 16-person crew, including the captain and an engineer, and departed.
The Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization has been involved with a months-long string of maritime boardings and abductions. The kidnappers have targeted slow-moving tugs and fishing vessels, taking crew and demanding ransoms from their employers.
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to eliminate Abu Sayyaf and has initiated a full-scale military campaign in the Sulu archipelago to disrupt its operations. The group claimed responsibility for a retaliatory bombing in Duterte's home city of Davao early this month, which claimed the lives of 14 citizens and injured dozens more.