Kidnappers have made contact with family members of five Malaysian sailors taken from a tugboat off Lahad Datu, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed. Pix courtesy of Marine Police

SANDAKAN: Kidnappers have made contact with family members of five Malaysian sailors taken from a tugboat off Lahad Datu, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

The kidnappers have also been identified and based on that, the government has initiated negotiations for the release of the five hostages, he said.

He said family members should refrain from divulging information on the discussions or communications between the authorities and the kidnappers as that would only encourage the terrorists to continue committing cross-border crimes.

“We know the people involved and we are negotiating with them. I hope any discussions made would not be highlighted in the media or any other form; what is more important is to secure the release of the victims.”

Nur Jazlan said this after conferring the Pingat Kedaulatan Negara to members of the security forces here.

The tugboat, with a barge in tow, was on its way back to Semporna from Sandakan when it was intercepted in the bay of Dent Haven off Lahad Datu on Monday.

The authorities were alerted after the empty tugboat was found with its engine still running.

The five taken from the tugboat, Serudong 3, were Abdul Rahim Summas, 62 (from Tawau), Tayudin Anjut, 45 (Tawau), Fandy Bakran, 26 (Tawau), Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 23 (Tawau), and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32 (Pahang).