The Foreign Ministry is urging Indonesian fishermen and ship crew members to avoid waters off the coast of Sabah state in the Malaysian part of Borneo, following the recent abduction of five fishermen by members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry said Indonesian representatives in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau were urging Indonesian ship crew members not go to sea because of “unguaranteed security conditions in the waters off Sabah”.
The ministry also advised those looking for employment as migrant workers to follow procedure to travel to their destination countries and not go as crew members of ships that operate in waters off Sabah.
Members of a faction of the notorious Abu Sayyaf group abducted on Thursday five Indonesian fishermen from a trawler in Sabah’s easternmost waters off Lahad Datu, located about 10 minutes from the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in the southern Philippines.
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The hostages were part of an eight-man crew aboard a Sabah-registered fishing vessel, before armed gunmen took them to the southern Philippines.
Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar said Monday that the government would take the necessary steps to handle the latest kidnappings to ensure the safety of the hostages. He also expressed disappointment at the inability of Malaysian authorities to secure their borders.
The Abu Sayyaf group, a loose association of militants who kidnap for ransom and operate out of the southern islands of the Philippines, began targeting Indonesian sailors in 2016. Thirty-nine people had been abducted before Thursday’s incident. The government has denied claims that it paid ransom for their release.Artikel Asli