Police are looking into claims by Philippine authorities that one of the three kidnappers shot dead during a gunfight in waters off Sabah east coast was a key Abu Sayyaf leader.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said they received information that the man, identified as Abraham Hamid, was among three killed in the firefight off Semporna on Thursday night.
“Once we have confirmed his identity as well as the others, I will announce it,” he said.
On whether the two other deceased and two others arrested were among those listed in the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) wanted persons list, he said the police were also probing the matter.
“At this juncture, I cannot confirm it. Let us do our investigation as we are tackling this very carefully.”
An AFP report tonight quoted Western Mindanao Command spokesman Major Filemon Tan as confirming that Malaysian security forces have killed Abraham, a key member of Abu Sayyaf militant group, in the confrontation that followed three attacks by a group of seven armed men in Lahad Datu and Semporna.
Tan was quoted as saying that Abraham was responsible for several kidnappings of foreigners from a tourist resort in the southern Philippines last year as well as the abduction of four Indonesian crewmen in April.
Last month, Esscom disclosed a list of wanted individuals believed to be responsible for a series of kidnappings in Sabah’s east coast.
This year at least 11 attacks by armed men at sea were reported off Sabah waters, including seven that involved kidnappings.
The wanted persons are two Muktadil brothers – Khadafy and Salvador @ Badong, Salip Sosong @ Mohamad Apsa Abdulla, Halipa, Ibrahim, Sabri Madrasul @ Salip Jul, Las Pangit, Apo Mike @ Majan Sahidjuan, Hatib Hajan @ Sawadjaan, Alden Bagde @ Sayning, Alhabsy Misaya, Marajan Asiri, Muaamar Askali @ Abu Rami, Idang Susukan, Raden Abuh, Bocoi, Sangbas, Berong Sairol @ Boy Master, Bensaudi Sairol @ Boy Pangit, Boy Intel, Atai Susukan, Durog Hussein, and Saidul Idul.
It was reported that Badong was killed in September this year while trying the escape the military offensive in southern Philippines.
His brother Khadafy was arrested by Philippines security forces in November last year and is currently in jail.
As for Alden Bagde @ Sayning and Idang Susukan, the two were reported to have been responsible for the kidnapping of Sarawakian Bernard Then, who was beheaded last year.