It has emerged that families of four kidnapped Malaysian seafarers recently freed by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines raised RM12m ($2.93m) and handed the sum to police in Sabah.
“All proceeds from the donation raised were handed over to the police,” one of the family members told Malaysian media on speculation that a ransom had been paid to get the crew freed after 69 days in captivity.
Abu Sayyaf has been very active in and around the Sulu Sea in recent months, targeting mainly tugs and barges, and demanding ransom for captured crews.
Splash lead Opinion writer Andrew Craig-Bennett described the area, which sees some $40bn of cargoes pass through it annually, as “the next Somalia” in an April article.
On Monday the Islamist group announced it had beheaded a second Canadian hostage as the deadline for the payment of a PES600m ($129m) ransom lapsed.