ZAMBOANGA CITY: Kidnappers of two Indonesian fishermen demanded 4 million Malaysian ringgit in exchange for the safe release of their hostages, believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines, Malaysian media reported on Wednesday.
On September 11 two masked gunmen abducted Usman Yunus, 35, and Samsul Sagunim, 40, off Semporna town despite strict security and sea curfew the Malaysian authorities have imposed following persistent threats posed by Abu Sayyaf Group bandits, that Kuala Lumpur and the Philippines have blamed for ransom kidnappings in Sabah.
The attackers, armed with automatic rifles, were speaking in Tausug, a dialect commonly used in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, according to two other fishermen, who escaped during the abduction.
The Star quoted Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah as saying the kidnapper called up one of the victim’s families on September 18 and made the demand. “The wife of one of the victims, who is in Sulawesi, Indonesia, received the call from the Philippines. No deadline has been set so far [for the payment]. Maybe negotiations will be carried out among several quarters including the families of the victims,” Omar said during a media conference.
The 4 million Malaysian ringgit ransom is equivalent to about P52 million.
Malaysian newspaper, Daily Express, also reported that the two abducted fishermen were brought to Talipao town in Sulu. It quoted Nicholas Teo, deputy director of the Singapore-based Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (Recaap), as the source of its information.
Teo said Recaap learned that the kidnappers fled with their hostages on a speedboat towards Tawi-Tawi and then headed to Sulu. “Recaap believes their final destination is Talipao in Sulu, an area where the Abu Sayyaf group has previously based its kidnapping-for-ransom operations,” Teo said, citing intelligence from the Philippine Coast Guard.
The report also quoted another Malaysian security official who said their abductors brought the hostages to Talipao town. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the abductions, but the Abu Sayyaf had previously kidnapped Indonesian fishermen and sailors off Sabah and ransomed them off to their employers.
Kuala Lumpur sought the assistance of Philippine authorities in recovering Yunus and Sagunim.
The latest kidnappings happened three days after Abu Sayyaf banditss freed Indonesian fishermen – Sudarlan Samansung, 41; Hamdam Salim, 34, and Subandi Sattoh, 27, – to the group of former Moro National Liberation Front rebel leader Nur Misuari in Buanza village in Indanan, Sulu. They were kidnapped in January last year while on a fishing expedition off Tawi-Tawi.
It was unknown how much ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf who also released other Indonesian hostages in the past to Misuari.
A public school teacher, Benjamin Ubaid, who was also abducted recently in Sulu has been freed but details of his release remain unclear, although sources in the province said ransom may have been paid to the kidnappers who were suspected to be members of the Abu Sayyaf.
The kidnappers had originally demanded P1.5 million from Ubaid’s family, according to sources, but it was not immediately known whether ransom was indeed paid. Ubaid was released late on Monday.
Source : .manilatimes