Indonesian kidnapped in Sulu Sea

JAKARTA • Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped another Indonesian sailor in the Sulu Sea, where numerous seafarers have been abducted by Islamist extremists in recent months, officials said yesterday.

The kidnapping took place on Wednesday off the north-east of Sabah state on the Malaysian side of Borneo island, said Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia Herman Prayitno. "(The vessel) was intercepted by a boat carrying four armed men," he added.

The kidnappers took the Indonesian captain after failing to get the RM10,000 (S$3,300) they demanded, he said.

They released the two other crew members - an Indonesian and a Malaysian - whom the authorities are questioning, said Malaysia's marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry said it was still trying to find out which group was responsible.

The kidnapping is the latest in a string of incidents in the Sulu Sea, where groups of armed men have ambushed fishing vessels and seized Malaysian and Indonesian citizens for ransom.

Ten other Indonesians kidnapped in recent months by the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf extremist group are still being held.

Jakarta has banned Indonesian- flagged vessels from sailing to the Philippines and pushed for joint maritime patrols in the waterway.

A handful of Malaysian sailors have also been kidnapped this year.

The Abu Sayyaf militants, based in the remote and mountainous southern Philippine islands, beheaded two Canadian hostages this year after their multimillion- dollar ransom demands were not met. Last year, they killed a Malaysian hostage.

The group is a loose network of a few hundred militants, formed in the 1990s with seed money from the Al-Qaeda terror network.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesian kidnapped in Sulu Sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe