9 victims of kidnapping in Lahad Datu waters released

Authorities are on high alert following the kidnapping of the fishermen. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Nine out of the 10 fishermen kidnapped by militants believed to be linked the Abu Sayaff terror group in Lahad Datu waters on Tuesday have been released and are now under the care of the security forces in the southern Philippines.

Sabah police commissioner Omar Mammah, when contacted by Bernama today, confirmed the matter and said further discussions with the Philippine authorities were under way as the kidnapped victims had no documents.

“A decision will be made whether to bring them back to Sabah.

“The Philippine authorities found the victims walking on a street in a town on an island in the southern Philippines at 10pm yesterday. The kidnappers had released them when they found out they had no money to pay,” he said.

Omar said the fate of the other victim was still unknown.

Commenting on a local newspaper report that the kidnapped victims were not Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) as earlier reported, he said police would inquire into the matter.

Meanwhile, in Semporna, the wife of one of the victims, Hamidah Lallah, 22, said she received the news from her brother-in-law who came to her residence this morning.

“My brother-in-law received a call on their release at 11am. Maybe now they are being held by the military (of the Philippines) there,” she told Bernama.

However, Hamidah said she was unable to find out if her husband, Abdul Nasir Nuli (Inai), was one of the nine victims released.

So far, she has not been contacted by the police on the matter.

On June 18, about 2am, 10 out of the 16 crew members of two fishing boats in the waters of Lahad Datu were abducted by a group of gunmen as they were heading to Semporna from Tambisan, Lahad Datu. The other six managed to escape.

The abducted fishermen were brought to an island in the southern Philippines.

Prior to this, police had said no ransom demands were made for the 10 who were considered “low value” targets.