July 11, 2016 – Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry today confirmed that three Indonesian fishermen were kidnapped by a group of gunmen in the waters of Lahad Datu, off Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah over the weekend.
On Saturday evening, a Malaysian-flagged fishing trawler with a crew of seven was in the waters of Lahad Datu when it was attacked by five armed men on a speedboat. Three members of the crew were taken by the men, while the rest were released unharmed.
Based on early investigations, the three men kidnapped are 34-year-old Lorens Koten, 40-year-old Teo Dores Kopong and 46-year-old Emanuel. Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said the men had been taken by their kidnappers to Tawi Tawi in southern Philippines.
“The Malaysian police in Lahad Datu have confirmed the incident, and also confirmed that the three crewmen that were kidnapped are Indonesian citizens with legal work permits in Malaysia,” said Ms Retno in a press conference today.
She added that the kidnappers had communicated with the vessel owner through the crew who were taken hostage. She called on her counterparts from the Philippines and Malaysia to give due attention to the abduction and reiterated that such incidents cannot be tolerated.
“Serious efforts have to be made immediately by the Philippine and Malaysian governments, and the Indonesian government is ready to cooperate to secure the release of the hostages,” said Ms Retno.
This is the second kidnapping incident in less than three weeks involving Indonesian citizens. On June 20, seven Indonesian sailors were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in waters near Jolo, southwest Philippines.
Ms Retno said that Indonesian President Joko Widodo called his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte last Thursday, urging him to give special attention to these kidnappings involving Indonesian citizens.