As the spectre of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf militants looms in the high seas, five gunmen in a speed boat kidnapped three Indonesian fishermen in the waters off Felda Sahabat near Lahad last night.
Lorence Koten, 34; Teo Dorus Kopong, 42; and Emanuel, 46, were among seven crew members onboard a Malaysian-registered fishing trawler when the incident occurred about 11.40pm.
Sabah Police Commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun said the trawler was intercepted by a speed boat which was ferrying five men, three of whom were armed with M-14 and M-16 high-powered rifles.
“When (the boat) managed to intercept the fishing trawler, the gunmen came onboard before they searched the vessel and took away all mobile phones and documents, including curfew exception passes.
“The kidnappers later escaped with the three victims. However, four other crew members were released,” he told a press conference in Lahad Datu today.
Abdul Rashid said at the time of the kidnapping, no violence was reported and the police (at Presstime) were still recording statements from the four crewmen who were released, to facilitate investigations.
He said initial investigations revealed the three kidnapping victims held passports.
According to statements by the released crew members, the kidnappers spoke in halting Malay, not any local dialect, added Abdul Rashid.
“So far, the fishing trawler company has not received any call, demanding for ransom to secure the release of those kidnapped.
“(Nevertheless) We hope the public do not speculate... give us a chance to investigate further (into the case),” he said.