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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Indonesian skipper freed in Jolo island

The Indonesian skipper who was kidnapped in the east coast of Sabah has been released in Jolo island.

Sources in the southern Philippines island told The Star that Harman Mangga, a 30-year-old skipper of a Sabah-owned fishing trawler, is no longer in the custody of his Abu Sayyaf captors.

It is not known whether a ransom was paid for Harman’s release or he was rescued in a military operation.

The Star reported that on Aug 3, two crewmen had returned to Sandakan waters with the trawler, claiming that their skipper Harman was being held hostage by gunmen in southern Philippines.

They told Malaysian police that the gunmen were demanding RM10,000 for Harman’s release.

However, their claims about the “kidnapping” raised a red flag as the RM10,000 ransom demand was a far cry from the usual starting demand of up to RM20mil.

According to the account of the two crewmen, aged 24 and 26, the trawler with the three men left Sandakan at about 6.30pm on July 31.

Then on Aug 3, at about 4.20pm in waters off Kinabatangan, four men armed with M16 rifles came aboard as they were pulling up their nets.

Apparently, the four men were in military fatigues and spoke in Malay with a foreign accent.

The gunmen allegedly took the crewmen and their trawler to a nearby island before moving to another island.

By Philip Golingai

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