Three fishermen on Malaysian boats feared kidnapped by masked gunmen off Sabah

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Three fishermen were feared to have been kidnapped on Monday (Sept 23) from a Malaysian fishing boat in the waters off Sabah, close to the sea border with southern Philippines.

It was believed that seven kidnap-for-ransom masked gunmen in two pump boats boarded two fishing vessels at noon off Sabah's Lahad Datu town.

The gunmen abducted three crew members. They were believed to be headed towards the chain of Tawi Tawi islands in southern Philippines that straddles Sabah waters.

Sabah police commissioner Omar Mammah and Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Huzaini Ghazali could not be reached for comment on the alleged incident.

The Sulu archipelago that borders Malaysia's Sabah state is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a radical faction that has pledged allegiance to terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for piracy and kidnap for ransom.