From ABS-CBN (Nov 20): 2 Indonesians abducted off Abu Sayyaf stronghold
Two Indonesian fishermen have been kidnapped in waters where militants from the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) have previously taken hostages, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed Sunday.
Armed with high-powered firearms, five masked men on board a speedboat abducted the victims off the Kunak District in Sabah, Malaysia, the AFP's Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said.
The speedboat fled towards high seas, the Wesmincom said, adding that the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi has been alerted about the incident.
The victims were identified as Indonesian nationals Sawal Maryam and Saparuddin Kone.
Authorities did not say if they believed the Abu Sayyaf was involved in the incident.
In May, ASG fighters released 14 Indonesian sailors who had been kidnapped in two high-seas raids that prompted Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to launch joint patrols.
In July, Malaysian police said five Malaysian tugboat crew were abducted by the bandits off the coast of Sabah.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of a few hundred Islamist militants, formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, that has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.
Although its leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, analysts said they are mainly focused on lucrative kidnappings.