Five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped by Islamic militants

Jakarta, Jan 21 (AFP/APP): Abu Sayyaf militants from the Philippines seized five Indonesian fishermen from a vessel off eastern Borneo, Jakarta officials said Tuesday, the latest in a series of abductions in the area.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it was working closely with Malaysian and Philippines authorities to rescue the crew, while urging other fishermen to avoid the area.

Eight crew members were aboard the vessel when it was boarded by the militants — who have distant links to the Islamic State organisation — but three were allowed to go free.

Abu Sayyaf is a group of self-proclaimed Islamic militants based in the southern Philippines who have engaged in bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries for ransom since the early 1990s.

In recent years the group has also preyed on cargo ships, tugboats and fishing vessels in poorly policed waters of the region near the sea borders with Malaysia and Indonesia.

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