The Western Mindanao Command’s naval and air units are conducting patrol and blocking operations in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu after an armed group boarded a Malaysian-flagged trawler in Sabah waters and kidnapped two Indonesian crew members last Nov. 18.
In a statement Monday, WMC Spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said deployment of these assets would prevent the suspects from entering the provinces which are known hotbeds of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
“Troops of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi under the WMC were promptly alerted for counter-action and informed air and naval assets patrolling the area to scour the sea lanes and verify possible docking sites,” he said.
He added the area is continuously being monitored to confirm reports of Indonesians possibly being brought to Sulu or Tawi-Tawi.
Earlier, Malaysian security forces reported that five heavily-armed men boarded the Malaysian trawler and took hostage two of its crewmen identified as Saparuddin Kone, the craft’s captain and crew member, Sawal Maryam.
The attack took place on Merabong waters near Kunak District, Sabah. The suspects immediately fled using an unmarked speed boat after the crime. (PNA)