Authorities in Sabah are now on high alert against the Abu Sayyaf, which is reportedly planning to kidnap high-value targets in the area.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) mobilized its assets to key areas in response to the threat, Esscom commander Datuk Huzani Ghazali said.
“We are on high alert,” he said, citing following intelligence reports on the movement of the group (https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/02/high-alert-over-abu-sayyaf).
Also, he said they are studying the option of imposing a 24-hour curfew in two or three areas so that no boats would be allowed entry there.
He said the intelligence reports last Oct. 30 indicated at least nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen left their Jolo stronghold and were heading towards Sabah’s Mataking and Pom Pom island in Semporna.
Citing the reports, he said the group was targeting tourists and crew members of fishing vessels.
Mataking, which is dotted with holiday resorts, is close to the sea border of the Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi area.
In November 2013, a Taiwanese tourist was kidnapped and her male friend killed by gunmen at a resort on Pom Pom island.
Last Sept. 23, assailants on a pump boat grabbed three Indonesians during a noon raid on a Sabah-registered fishing trawler in Lahad Datu’s Tambisan waters.
Regional intelligence sources said the three Indonesians were being held by Abu Sayyaf kidnapper Majan Sahijuan @Apo Mike, who comes under Commander Idang Susukan on Jolo island.
Another area being looked at was a review of the use of pump boats in the east coast, he said, adding that perhaps only one engine would be allowed to be fitted on such boats.
He said they were re-registering pump boats in the east coast and color-coding them by district.