Six gunmen dressed in black suits with masks used a twin-engined grey speedboat to abduct eight crew from a Malaysia-registered fishing trawler on or before January 17th, reported the Philippine Coast Guard (ReCAAP Focal Point) to ReCAAP ISC.
The fishing trawler was found abandoned and with no crew on board during the afternoon of January 17th some 4.25nm off Pulau Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. The following day the Malaysian authorities reported that they had recovered three of the eight missing crew in the vicinity of Lahad Datu, Sabah.
ReCAAP ISC said that this was the first abduction of crew incident reported in 2020, following two reported abductions in 2019, in June and September. All the abducted crew from the two incidents in 2019 were rescued and released.
ReCAAP ISC reiterated its advisory from November 2016 that, where possible, ships reroute from this area. Otherwise, ship masters and crew were strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia.