Indonesian Crew Who Foiled Abduction Attempt Recount Drama In High Seas

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KOTA KINABALU – An Indonesian sailor, who was shot by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen who abducted four of his colleagues in the sea between southern Philippines and Sabah, is in stable condition.

The unidentified sailor, who sustained a gunshot wound to his chest, is recovering in the Tawau district hospital.

Malaysian police are meanwhile assisting the five other crew members who managed to flee to Sabah following the attack at 6.30pm on Friday.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said that they were in contact with Indonesian police through Interpol to take necessary action to assist the six Indonesian crewmen who entered Sabah after Filipino gunmen attacked them.

“We are working together to take whatever necessary action is needed to assist the crewmen,’’ he said in confirming that no Malaysians were involved in the incident that occurred in Philippine territorial waters, east of Sabah’s Mataking island.

The kidnapping of the sailors from tugboat TB Henry is the third incident to occur in international sea routes between Sabah and Tawi Tawi islands of southern Philippines in three weeks.

It was learned that tugboat TB Henry, which was towing barge Christy with 10 Indonesian sailors, was on its way back to Tarakan after unloading 8,000 tonnes of coal at Cebu in the Philippines on April 11.

While they were on their way, five Filipino gunmen in a grey-blue speedboat came alongside the tugboat.

The gunmen ordered them to the lower deck of the tugboat but the crew refused. This led to some shots being fired before the crew came down to the lower deck.

It is believed that the gunmen ordered them to the lower deck of the tugboat but the crew refused, resulting in shots being fired before the crew were forced to come down to the lower deck.

Thereafter, the gunmen ordered four of them to board a speedboat but the sailors put up a fight, during which time one of them was hit in the chest. The gunmen then fled towards the north with the four hostages.

The remaining six sailors then radioed for help and Malaysian navy and police patrol boats were dispatched. The injured man was first taken to Semporna before being transferred to the Tawau hospital.

The remaining crew were taken to Tawau where they are to give their statements to the police.

On March 26, a tugboat carrying coal from Borneo to the Philippines was believed to have been seized by an armed group while 10 crew members of the ship, who are Indonesian nationals, were abducted.

On April 1, four Malaysian crew members of a tugboat were kidnapped by eight armed men in the Ligitan waters, near Semporna.

The kidnappers have demanded a RM5mil ransom for the 10 Indonesians while calls have been made to the families of the Malaysian hostages for an undisclosed amount in ransom. – The Star