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Of 59 people kidnapped from boats off Sabah, 15 still being held captive

 | September 14, 2017

No new abduction cases have been reported since April 17, says a maritime piracy information sharing centre.

kidnap-sabahKOTA KINABALU: Fifteen people are still being held captive after they were kidnapped from their boats in the waters off Sabah’s east coast, a piracy information sharing centre has revealed.

According to statistics provided by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, (ReCAAP), the 15 were from 59 people kidnapped since March 16 last year.

“Of those kidnapped, 28 have been released and 11 rescued. Five were killed, leaving 15 people still held in captivity,” ReCAPP deputy director Nicholas Teo told FMT.

“From March last year until August this year, there have been 13 abductions and 10 attempts to kidnap.”

The ReCAPP statistics, at the end of August, did not give a breakdown of the citizenship status of those abducted.

Statistics provided by the centre further show those still in captivity were the crew of five vessels.

Three of the abductees were the crew of a fishing trawler which the kidnappers hit on Sept 10, 2016.

In an attack on a boat named the Royal 16 on Nov 11, 2016, six crew members were kidnapped, two of them were killed and one rescued, leaving three still held captive.

On Dec 20 last year, pirates stormed the Ramona 2 and abducted four sailors. One of them was later killed and one rescued, with two still in captivity.

Three people are still in captivity after being taken from the Fishing Banca on Jan 18 this year.

On Feb 19, 2017, six crew members of the Giang Hai were kidnapped. Two were killed, leaving four people still being held.

Teo said despite the drop in the number of reported cases in the waters off Sabah’s east coast, the menace is still a matter of concern.

“While no abduction cases have been reported since April 17, sea kidnappings remain a concern as operations by enforcement agencies are still ongoing,” Teo said.

Teo attributed the reduction in the number of cases to several factors, including the coordinated efforts by the law enforcement agencies and information sharing.

“There have been arrests with some perpetrators killed,” he said.

“The presence of law enforcement vessels, coordinated information exchange, quick responses from the Philippine, Indonesian and Malaysian authorities, overland operations by the Philippine security forces, multiple reporting channels and precautionary measures by vessels have all contributed to this decline.”

According to the statistics, tugboats made up most of the vessels hit by the kidnappers.

“Tug boats are generally soft targets. They are slow in speed and offer low freeboard and fewer crew members to go up against,” Teo said.

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