ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/16 April)– Gunmen of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) attacked an Indonesian tugboat with 10 sailors on board, as it was plying Philippine waters Friday night.
The tugboat was headed back to Banjarmasin, Indonesia, when the armed men held the Indonesians at gunpoint, but six sailors escaped.
According to the Office of Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun, the details of the incident were yet unclear, as the incident “happened in international waters, in the Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi islands, that borders Sabah’s east coast, at about 6:30 in the evening of 15 April.”
“They (the sailors) have come to us for help,” Harun said, as he confirmed that Malaysian police were still gathering more information on the incident. But of the six who escaped, one is injured and is undergoing medical treatment in Semporna, at Sabah’s east coast in Malaysia. Sabah police are still conducting further investigation as to how one sailor got wounded, or whether any gunshot was fired by their attackers.
The Royal Malaysian Navy and Marine Patrol were reported to have rescued the six sailors.
Philippine Navy Cmdr. Earl Reyes, Task Force Tawi-tawi commander, confirmed the report and told MindaNews that the task force has been patrolling the borders at the Sibutu and Languyan areas since Friday night.
Friday night’s attack was the third in a month when foreign-owned tugboats plying Tawi-Tawi waters are harassed by the ASG in southern Philippines.
Evening of April 12, the Sabah police reported that eight armed men on board a jungkong-type of vessel presented themselves as Abu Sayyaf members, approached a Malaysian tugboat and abducted four Malaysian crew members.
According to information from Everline Bulk Ltd’s Lisa Chai Ling Tan, kidnapped were Wong Teck Pang, Wng Hung Song, Wong Teck Chi, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, all Malaysian nationals. Five other crew members – three Myanmar/Bamar and two Indonesians, were unharmed and sailed back to Tawau to file the report.
At the end of March, 10 Indonesian nationals on board Indonesian-owned tugboats were confirmed by Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi as having been held hostage by ASG following a seajack of Brama 12 tugboat, which is at present under the custody of Languyan, Tawi-tawi police. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)