40 Kidnappings Prevented in ESSZone Since 2018 According to Malaysian Authorities

Source: New Straits Times / Bernama

January 28: According to a recent statement, security forces have thwarted 40 kidnapping attempts in the waters off seven districts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) since 2018.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali said this was due to the cooperation between the Royal Malaysian Police, armed forces and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

He said measures to enhance security by tightening control over risky routes were able to detect kidnap-for-ransom activities carried out by terrorist groups from the southern Philippines.

“In 2017, there were no abduction cases, while there were two each in 2018 and 2019. We have foiled several kidnapping attempts since 2018, because when ESSCom receives information, all our personnel and assets will be deployed.”

According to Hazani, since 2000, resorts on the east coast of Sabah have been the target of kidnappers which led to the establishment of ESSCom in 2013.

“Curfews were enforced in the waters off the ESSZone to prevent kidnappings while at the same time security personnel were stationed at the resorts where abductions were likely to occur,” he said.

“They [kidnappers] operate near the Philippines international border so they can easily escape with the victims.”

He hoped the enforcement of curfews would be concentrated in the hotspot areas which served as cross-border crime routes, including the waters off Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Mabul in Semporna, Pulau Ligitan (Tawau) and Geem Reef (Tambisan, Lahad Datu).

Source: New Straits Times / Bernama

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