KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has confirmed that all the 10 fishermen abducted by a group believed to be linked to Abu Sayyaf in the waters off Lahad Datu early today are from a neighbouring country.
“The incident (kidnapping) did not involved any Malaysians but they were fishermen from our neighbouring country.
“I have instructed our security forces to investigate into this matter. Although this is not the first incident but we cannot let it continue,” he said today.
Meanwhile, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah also confirmed that the 10 fishermen who were abducted, were sea gypsies who had have been living in Sabah for decades.
He said they comprised of sea gypsies and those with a lepa-lepa letter (a letter signed by village chiefs to confirm that they are from a certain village).
The victims, aged between 17 and 60, were taken from two fishing vessels at about 2am on Jun 18.
“We have yet to receive any calls for ransom from any of the kidnappers,” said Omar.
Omar added that authorities were checking on the authenticity of the information on the lepa-lepa letters as these were issued sometime in the 70s.
“If these people really have the lepa-lepa letters, we want to find out where they got them,” he said, adding that authorities were still investigating the motive behind the abductions as the hostages lived most of their lives at sea.
The 10 fishermen were abducted Abu Sayyaf-linked group from two fishing boats off the Tambisan waters near to Tawi Tawi islands of Philippines.
It was learnt that the incident occurred at about 2am when the fishing boats were heading towards Semporna believed to renew their permits.
It was believed that the fishing boats were approached by two speedboats carrying individual(s) believed to be heavily armed.
The group believed to have taken four men from the first fishing boat and another six men from the second fishing boat.
Two other crew members from the first boat and four other crew members from the second boat were left behind.
The group was believed to have fled towards the Philippine waters.
The case was currently being investigated under Section 365 of the Penal Code for kidnapping.