Asian piracy watchdog ReCAAP ISC issued a warning on May 1st to seafarers over crew abduction threat posed by members of Abu Sayyaf in Malaysia.
Aby Sayyaf is one of the most violent jihadist groups in the southern Philippines, notorious for kidnappings for ransom.
“The group will be using a blue 3-Engine speedboat and is expected to be underway to Sabah within the next 24 hours,” ReCAAP said, citing information from Phillippine Focal Point.
As informed, the group is planning to kidnap mariners operating in the area.
“All vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise extreme caution when transiting in the waters of Lahad Datu and surrounding waters in Sabah,” the warning further reads.
Since October 2016, the perpetrators have begun to target ships of larger tonnage, such as Dong Bang Giant 2, Royal 16, Southern Falcon and Kumiai Shagang.
Once in their hands, mariners are often subject to months of captivity and sometimes even execution. This is in particular due to the fact that the Philippine government has adopted a no-ransom policy when dealing with the militant group.
In an incident dating November 2016, six men were taken by the militants from the bulk carrier Royal 16.
Bodies of two decapitated seafarers were found by the Philippine military in July 2017, while one seafarer was allegedly killed in a gunbattle in the same month. Two seafarers have been rescued from the group, while the fate of one more mariner remains unknown.