Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi believes kidnap-for-ransom groups based in southern Philippines are behind the latest alleged abductions in Sabah waters.
"So far no ransom demand has been received from any quarter, but I believe the latest 'abductions' were masterminded by the same groups involved in the series of kidnappings of Malaysians and foreign tourists since a few years ago," he said today.
Ahmad Zahid, who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday for a three-day working visit to India, was speaking to the Malaysian media after back-to-back courtesy calls from Bharatiya Janata Party general-secretary Ram Madhav and Telengana State Minister of Industries KT Rama Rao.
It was reported that an empty tugboat with its engine still running was found abandoned yesterday in the waters of Dent Haven, Tambisan, Lahad Datu. The authorities are investigating the fate of the five crew members, who are all Malaysians.
The five have been identified as boat skipper Abd Rahim Summas, 62, from Kampung Tanjung Batu, Tawau; Tayudin Anjut, 45, from Kampung Tanjung Batu Darat, Tawau; Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from Felda Jengka 7, Bandar Jengka, Pahang; Fandy Bakran, 26, from Kampung Pukat, Tawau, and Mohamad Jumadil Rahim, 23, from Batu 2 Jalan Apas, Tawau.
Asked about death threats received by inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar, the home minister said they would in no way daunt the police in combating terrorism.
"The police will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety and security of the people whatever threat they receive," Ahmad Zahid said.
Khalid was reported to be continuing to receive threats following police crackdowns on Islamic State militants in the country.