Pirates kidnap eight fishermen off Sabah, Malaysia

The Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessel BRP Batangas (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

The Information Sharing Centre (ISC) of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has reported that eight crewmen were abducted from a Malaysian-registered fishing vessel in the waters off Sabah on Friday, January 17.

The Philippine Coast Guard reported to the ReCAAP ISC that six gunmen dressed in black suits with masks used a grey speedboat with twin engines and abducted the crew from the trawler SSK 00543. The vessel was found abandoned and with no crew on board at about 15:00 hours local time on Friday at approximately 4.24 nautical miles off Pulau Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah.

On Saturday, January 18, Malaysian authorities reported that they had recovered three of the eight missing crew in the vicinity of Lahad Datu.

The Philippine Coast Guard was conducting maritime patrols in the area, particularly near Sulade island which was believed to be the staging area of the perpetrators.

The Filipino and Malaysian authorities have stepped up their patrol efforts, conducting pursuit operations and intensifying military operations to locate the five abducted Indonesian crew.

The ReCAAP states this is the first reported abduction of crew in Asia in 2020.

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