7 fishermen feared kidnapped in Sabah waters

Esscom boosts security along the Malaysia-Philippines sea borders after the incident.

Four Malaysians abducted in Abu Sayyaf-infested waters off Sabah
A Malaysian navy vessel patrols near Sipadan Island off the coast of Malaysia's Sabah state April 25. Reuters

The security forces in east coast Sabah have been alerted of a possible abduction of seven fishermen in waters between Semporna and Lahad datu.

Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), said the authorities were verifying reports of the incident but he did not elaborate any further regarding the kidnapping.

"I cannot confirm anything until I get some details,'" Wan Bari said told The Star.

According to the reports, it is believed that those seven people including the owner of the fishing boat were kidnapped by cross border kidnap groups based in southern Philippines.

As an immediate response to the incident, Esscom has sealed off the sea borders.

Sabah Police Commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun said he didn't receive the report on the incident yet.

The series of hijacking incidents by the Abu Sayyaf militants at sea has prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia governments to try to coordinate maritime patrols in order to control such incidents.

In a trilateral maritime security meeting in Bali, the countries agreed to let each other enter one another's waters in times of emergency.

The Abu Sayyaf group, linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is known for kidnapping people and demanding millions of dollars in ransom.

Recently, the group beheaded two Canadians whom they had kidnapped from a beach resort after a ransom deadline passed.

Reports say the group is still holding five Malaysian hostages and three Filipino fishermen.

At least 25 Indonesians have been already kidnapped by the extremists in 2016.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the Abu Sayyaf group recently that he would eat them "alive" as they were "beyond redemption."

Duterte threatened the militants after the deadly bomb blast in his hometown of Davao City that killed 14 people and injuring 67 others.