The Philippine Coast Guard (ReCAAP Focal Point) reported to the ReCAAP ISC that six gunmen dressed in black suits with masks used a grey speedboat with twin engine (40 HP) and abducted eight crew from a Malaysia-registered fishing trawler (with marking SSK 00543). The fishing trawler was found abandoned and with no crew on board on 17 January 2020 at about 1500 hrs at approximately 4.24 nm off Pulau Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. On 18 January 2020, the Malaysian authorities reported that they had recovered three of the eight missing crew in the vicinity of Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The Philippine authorities were conducting maritime patrols in the area, particularly near the Sulade island (which was believed to be the staging area of the perpetrators). The Philippine and Malaysia authorities are stepping up their patrol efforts, conducting pursuit operations and intensifying its military operation to locate the five abducted Indonesian crew.
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