Unidentified gunmen abducted three Indonesian fishermen off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo around 01:00 (local time) on Tuesday, September 11. The incident occurred while a fishing boat was docked at Pulau Gaya in Semporna (Sabah). Sabah's acting police chief announced they are investigating the matter and looking into possible ties with the Filipino terror group Abu Sayyaf.
There is a historical risk of kidnap-for-ransom in Sabah and nearby areas, including Philippine's Sulu archipelago (Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces). Many of these incidents were linked to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which formed in 1991 and has since pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding at least 14 other hostages.
A curfew is currently in effect for coastal waters off eastern Sabah from 18:00 to 06:00; the victims had applied for an exemption.
Many Western governments advice their citizens against travel to eastern Sabah (Malaysia) and southern Philippines due to the threat of kidnapping and criminality on the eastern coast of Sabah and the islands of the Sulu archipelago.
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