KOTA KINABALU, June 22 ― Nine out of the 10 fishermen kidnapped by militants believed to be linked the 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 southern Philippines.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah when contacted by Bernama today confirmed the matter and said further discussions with the Philippine authorities were underway as the kidnapped victims had no documents.
“The discussions will be conducted before a decision (whether they are to be brought back to Sabah) is made because they (victims) have no personal identity documents.
“The Philippine authorities met with the victims on the street in a town in an island in the southern Philippines at 10 pm yesterday as they walked in a group after being released by the kidnappers who knew 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 stating that the kidnapped victims were not Bajau Laut (Sea Gypsies), he said police would conduct an inquiry 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 with 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 released victims
So far, she has not been contacted by the police on the matter.
At around 2am on June 18, 10 out of 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 Phliippines. Police, prior to this, had said no ransom demands were made for the 10 and viewed it was because they were “low value” targets.
Meanwhile, Abdul Nakhil Ahmad, whose younger brother Abdul Nazar (Bongosan) was one of the victims, said his family was unaware of this latest development.
“You (reporter) call me, only now I know this (the release of nine kidnapped victims), I don’t know about this release. If it’s true, ‘Alhamdulillah’ (Praise be to Allah) but why only nine (released), I hope everyone will be freed,” he said. — Bernama