PETALING JAYA: The five Malaysians, reported missing from a tugboat in Lahad Datu, Sabah, have been taken hostage by members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group.
According to a report in the Philippine Star, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza was quoted as saying he had “heard” that the bandit group was behind the kidnapping of the five, but did not provide further details.
Dureza was referring to Malaysians Abdul Rahim Summas, Tayuddin Anjut, Fandy Bakran, Mohamad Jumadil Rahim (all from Sabah), and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail from Pahang, who were declared missing when their empty tugboat was found drifting in Sabah waters off Lahad Datu on Monday.
According to Dureza, three Indonesian fishermen, also reported missing from a tugboat near Lahad Datu last week, were in the custody of the feared Abu Sayyaf as well.
“One Norwegian Kjartan (Sekkingstad) is still in their hands right now,” he was quoted as saying.
Sekkingstad was abducted with Canadians John Risdel and Robert Hall, as well as Filipino Marites Flor, from an island in Southern Philippines in September last year. Risdel and Hall were beheaded while Flor was freed last month.
Dureza also reportedly told a press briefing that the founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Nur Misuari had offered to work with the Filipino military to combat the Abu Sayyaf.
However, Dureza said the government was more in favour of employing a calibrated and comprehensive approach to the problem, rather than just “bombing everyone.”