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Kidnappers demand 4-M ringgit for release of two Indonesians

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A suspected Abu Sayyaf-linked kidnap-for-ransom gang which abducted two Indonesian fishermen in the waters off Sabah two weeks ago are demanding a ransom in Malaysian ringgit of 4 million (more than P52 million Philippine Piso or  $965,780 US dollars) for their release.

Samsul Sagunim, 40, and Usman Yunus, 35, both from West Sulawesi, were taken off the coast of Semporna (a town in eastern Sabah that is seen as "the gateway for cross-border travel, especially to Tawi-Tawi and Sulu chain of islands in the Philippines) during curfew hours at about 1am on Sept. 11.

The two Indonesians are working on a Malaysian-flagged fishing vessel, the Dwi Jaya I. They were on a fishing vessel that had just docked at the Pulau Gaya when they were siezed by masked men armed with automatic rifles.

Earlier, it was reported that Sagunim and Yunus were abducted by armed men, said to have spoken in the Suluk dialect, a regional language spoken in Sulu Province in the eastern area of the state of Sabah, Malaysia, and in North Kalimantan, Indonesia by the Tausug people.

Malaysian authorities believed that suspected Abu Sayyaf-linked kidnappers crossed into international borders and brought their hostages to Talipao, Sulu.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) through its spokesperson,  Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, did not confirm the reports that kidnappers together with their hostages had already left Malaysian waters.

Besana maintained his earlier statement that "there is no report of that from the Joint Task Forces yet. Alleged only by other countries but our forces have been in the tight lookout for such."

The Star Online, citing police sources, reported on Tuesday the family of one of the victims received a call from one of the kidnappers at about 10.24am on Sept 18, to arrange for payment in order to secure their freedom.

"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). We will wait for developments," the report reads, quoting Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah.

The latest abduction of two Indonesian crew this year is seen as the first kidnapping since trilateral maritime patrols between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines kicked off last year.

Previously, Malaysians and Indonesians had suffered a series of kidnappings of their seamen by Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf terrorists which occurred on the sea borders between Sabah and southern Philippines.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, which has carried out bombings, murder, extortion, beheading of both foreign and local kidnap victims, continues to hold 11 hostages, including a Dutchman, a Vietnamese, and Filipinos in Sulu. Hader Glang




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