Trawler skipper grabbed off Kinabatangan released by captors in Jolo

File photo of a fishing trawler similar to the one skippered by Harman.
File photo of a fishing trawler similar to the one skippered by Harman.

KOTA KINABALU – The Indonesian skipper of a trawler who was kidnapped off Kinabatangan waters in August is said to have been released recently in Jolo island.

The Star, quoting sources in the southern Philippines island, said that Harman Mangga, the 30-year-old skipper of a Sabah-owned fishing trawler, is no longer in the custody of his Abu Sayyaf captors.

It is not known whether a ransom was paid for Harman’s release or he was rescued in a military operation.

It was reported that on Aug 3, two crewmen had returned to Sandakan waters with the trawler, claiming that their skipper Harman was being held hostage by gunmen in southern Philippines.

They told Malaysian police that the gunmen were demanding RM10,000 for Harman’s release.

However, their claims about the “kidnapping” raised a red flag as the RM10,000 ransom demand was a far cry from the usual starting demand of up to RM20mil.

According to the account of the two crewmen, aged 24 and 26, the trawler with the three men left Sandakan at about 6.30pm on July 31.

Then on Aug 3, at about 4.20pm in waters off Kinabatangan, four men armed with M16 rifles came aboard as they were pulling up their nets.

Apparently, the four men were in military fatigues and spoke in Malay with a foreign accent.

The gunmen allegedly took the crewmen and their trawler to a nearby island before moving to another island.