Police: 10 sea gypsies feared kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf

Police: 10 sea gypsies feared kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf

KOTA KINABALU: Terror group Abu Sayyaf gunmen are believed to have abducted 10 sea gypsies near the Tawi Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.

Sabah police said that the sea gypsies, on two fishing boats, were in Lahad Datu waters and heading towards Semporna when their boats were hijacked by the gunmen in speedboats early this morning.

They were believed to have taken four of the six crewmen in the first fishing boat and six of the 10 crew members in the second boat.

The gunmen then went towards the southern Philippines island of Sitangkai, which is about 15 minutes speedboat ride from Sabah’s Tambisan waters.

Sabah police chief Datuk Omar Mammah said the sea gypsies are aged between 17 and 60 years old, and the authorities have yet to receive any ransom demand.

“We also don’t know the motive of the abduction as the hostages have lived in the seas for decades,” he said.

It was learned that the two fishing boats were plying the waters during curfew hours without a permit.

The remaining six fishermen, who were rescued by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), claimed they were heading to Semporna to renew their permits.

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