KOTA KINABALU: Kidnap-for-ransom groups will step up attacks and grab soft targets such as fishermen as a way to exact revenge on Malaysian security forces for killing a kidnap kingpin, said anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo.
These southern Philippines-based cross border criminal groups are believed to be plotting to avenge the death of Abraham Hamid and two others by the Malaysian security forces on Thursday.
“They won’t confront the security forces.“Instead, they will try to abduct more soft targets to insult the Malaysians while collecting more hostages for ransom,” Octavio told The Star.
These criminals, he said, were prepared to lose their lives carrying out their activities.“So, they don’t mind the risks for a great reward,” said the Jolo island-based activist.
He said Abraham and other gunmen who encountered the elite Malaysian police squad, the Tiger Platoon, following an abduction and robbery spree in waters between Lahad Datu and Semporna, were part of a cross border criminals strike force.
“The gangs have fast vessels, usually powered by two big outboard engines, each at least 80 horsepower to stage the kidnappings.”He said these cross border criminal groups would have sympathisers in Sabah’s east coast who would provide them with information about the location of their targets.
Such sympathisers must be weeded out, Octavio said.
On Saturday, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun acknowledged that they were bracing for revenge attacks following the killing of three kidnappers and the capture of two others in the Thursday shootout.
He said the police were continuing to interrogate the two kidnappers who were arrested following the shootout near Pulau Gaya.
Also believed to have been injured then was another kidnap kingpin, Jul Hassan, who was in another boat.
The latest drama was the ninth such incident in waters off Sabah’s east coast this year.