The Philippine military reported on Sunday that Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped 5 Indonesian fishers in Malaysian waters last week.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the terrorist group abducted 8 Indonesians in Sabah on Thursday. They then released three, but the remaining five were probably brought to the southern Philippine province of Sulu.
Sulu is known to be Abu Sayyaf’s headquarters and stronghold.
The Philippine military clashed with Abu Sayyaf members in Sulare island in Parang Sulu on Saturday. The soldiers killed one militant and destroyed a speed boat, which they believe the terrorists were using in the kidnapping.
Abu Sayyaf group kidnaps 5 Indonesians in Malaysian waters
Sobejana said Malaysian authorities immediately coordinated with the Philippine military after the kidnapping.
The foreign ministry of Indonesia also said it is in close coordination with the Philippine government and was waiting for official information about the abduction.
Sobejana said the three freed Indonesian fishers positively identified the destroyed speedboat the six militants used to kidnap them.
“The likelihood they are in Sulare island or Parang, Sulu is very high,” he said.
Although the group has engaged in kidnapping hostages to be exchanged for ransom for many years, this means of funding grew dramatically beginning in 2014, providing funds for the group’s rapid growth.