Four Malaysian crewmembers were kidnapped by pirates on Friday while their tug was under way around 17 nautical miles East of Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia.
“Eight armed pirates in a speed boat approached and boarded the tug underway,” IMB’s piracy reporting center said.
Once on board the pirates opened fire, stole crew personal belongings and kidnapped four crewmembers and escaped.
The remaining crewmembers are reported to have sailed the vessel to the vicinity of Semporna, in the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo.
Thereafter, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s (MMEA) patrol boat escorted the vessel to a safe port.
The local media identified the tug as MV Massive 6 and have linked the attack to the Filipino Muslim militants, the notorious Abu Sayyaf group.
The attack comes just a week after the hijacking of the Indonesian tug Brahma 12 and the Anand 12 barge whose 10 crew members were kidnapped on March 26th while in the Philippine waters.
The 10 crewmembers are still being held by the hijackers, with their whereabouts unknown.
The ship owners reportedly learned of the attacks on March 26 upon receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a member of the Islamic extremist group, the Abu Sayyaf.
“During the phone conversation with the ship owners, the hijackers/hostage takers demanded ransom money. Since March 26th, those responsible have contacted the ship owners twice,” the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The ransom was reportedly set at 50 million pessos (USD 1.07 million).
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