ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 3, 2010) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels hijacked a Malaysian freight boat and stole fuel and navigation equipment before escaping off Sabah near the Philippine border, reports said on Friday.
Reports said at least 6 rebels on a speedboat fired automatic weapons before boarding the vessel transporting fuel and lumber off Lahad Datu town. There were no reports of casualties on the boat’s six crew members, mostly Indonesian, but the weekend attack sparked renewed fears of Abu Sayyaf activity in the oil-rich Malaysian state which is also being claimed by the Philippines.
The Free Malaysia Today also reported that the police are investigating the attack and that the crew quoted the rebels as saying they were members of the Abu Sayyaf. The vessel, owned by Syarikat One Up Sdn Bhd, was heading to Sandakan when the attack occurred.
“Boasting that they are members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, the group armed with two M16 rifles and four semi automatic hand guns fired a warning shot into the air before letting loose a fusillade of shots at the tug boat when it did not stop. The skipper of the tug boat finally stopped when bullets started whizzing by the crew and hit the tug boat's engines and propellers,” it said, adding, the gunmen carted cash and cell phones of crew members and also took a global positioning system, seven thousand liters of diesel, six batteries and several cooking gas cylinders.
Just early this year, gunmen with alleged connections to the Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped two Malaysian seaweed farmers and have demanded two million ringgits in exchange for their safe release.
The duo - Tsen Vui Chung, 42, and his cousin Lai Wing Chau, 33, - were seized in February from their farm in the island of Pulau Sebangkit in Sabah and were taken to Tawi-Tawi province in the southern Philippines.
The Abu Sayyaf also had kidnapped 21 mostly Western holidaymakers in Sabah’s resort island of Sipadan in 2001. The hostages were then ransomed off to Libya, which negotiated for their release, for millions of dollars. (Mindanao Examiner)