Philippine security forces gunned down an Abu Sayyaf militant believed to be involved in the kidnapping of five Indonesian fishermen off Lahad Datu last week.
Regional intelligence sources said the gunmen and the hostages were currently on the run from the pursuing military forces.
During the incident on Thursday, six gunmen kidnapped the hostages and fled on foot when they landed on Solre Island in Parang, within the militants’ stronghold in the southern Philippine island of Jolo.
According to regional intelligence sources, the Filipino military set up a cordon around Jolo following reports of the kidnapping of five Sabah-based Indonesian fishermen and a shootout occurred late Saturday.
“They conducted airstrike operations using MG helicopters on a suspected Abu Sayyaf group in Solre Island that resulted in the death of one of the militants,” the source said.
The source said a grey-blue coloured speedboat and a mobile phone were also seized.
On Thursday night, six militants from a kidnap-for-ransom group linked to suspected Abu Sayyaf militants abducted five Indonesian fishermen from their trawler in Sabah’s easternmost waters off Lahad Datu, about 10 minutes from the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.
The hostages were taken from an eight-man Indonesian crew on board the Sabah-registered fishing trawler before heading towards the southern Philippines waters.
Security forces under the Eastern Sabah Security Command were alerted to the incident by other fishermen at 1 p.m. on Friday.
They then immediately carried out an operation and alerted their Filipino counterparts.
Those kidnapped were the trawler’s skipper Arsyad Dahlan, 41; La Baa, 32; Riswanto Hayano, 27; Edi Lawalopo, 53; and Syarizal Kastamiran, 29.
All the Indonesians were working for a Sandakan-based fishing company.
Regional intelligence sources said that the Philippine military was closing in on the gunmen and the hostages.