KOTA KINABALU • With two of its leaders out of action, a group of notorious kidnappers based on the Philippine island of Tawi-Tawi is now rudderless, The Star newspaper reported yesterday, quoting unnamed sources.
Malaysia's Tiger Platoon police squad killed Abraham Hamid, described as a kidnapping kingpin by the Philippine military, in a firefight in the seas off eastern Sabah last Thursday evening.
A second kidnapping kingpin, Jul Hassan, was caught after a gun battle early on Saturday morning with the Philippines' Special Action Forces off Sitangkai island near Tawi-Tawi.
Hamid was killed in "well-coordinated operations" to eliminate the kidnap-for-ransom groups based in the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.
Two other gunmen, including a notorious smuggler known as Albaris, who was with Hamid, were killed by the Tiger Platoon in the gunfight.
The Philippine military said Hamid led his gang of bandits to snatch two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from a high-end resort in Samal island, Davao province, in September last year. The two Canadians were later beheaded.
A source said Hamid was believed to have "sold off" some of his kidnapped victims to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
Kidnappings in the waters off eastern Sabah and southern Philippines have been the bane of security officials in the last few years, with Malaysian island resort workers, Indonesian and Malaysian tugboat sailors and Western tourists often kidnapped for ransom by groups linked to the Abu Sayyaf.
The Abu Sayyaf still has as captives German sailor Jurgen Kantner, a Dutch national, five Malaysians, two Indonesians, six Vietnamese and seven Filipinos.
On Saturday, the Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command spokesman, Major Filemon Tan, said Malaysian security forces had dealt a blow to the Abu Sayyaf by killing Hamid.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK