The dusk-to-dawn sea curfew in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) has been extended to Oct 26. The 7pm to 5am curfew has entered its 52nd phase and covers seven districts, namely Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tawau, Beluran, and Semporna. (File pix)

KOTA KINABALU: The dusk-to-dawn sea curfew in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) has been extended to Oct 26.

The 7pm to 5am curfew has entered its 52nd phase and covers seven districts, namely Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tawau, Beluran, and Semporna.

In announcing the extension, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun advised residents to stay in their homes during curfew hours for safety reasons.

“No one is allowed to enter or be in areas that have been declared off-limits between 7pm and 5am.

“I have also instructed district police chiefs to issue curfew exemption permits only to individuals who comply with our safety requirements if they want to go fishing or pass through the curfew areas,” said Rashid.

Following a series of kidnappings off Sabah’s east coast, Rashid has called for all commercial and fishing vessel owners to install Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and communication devices on their boats.

This will allow security authorities to monitor movements of boats and identify their location whenever a distress call is issued.

The latest abduction was reported on Sept 27, when a fishing boat owner was kidnapped while fishing in Semporna waters. He was released on Oct 1.

On Aug 3, an Indonesian was reported kidnapped after armed men stormed a fishing trawler with three people on board in waters off Kertam Kuala Kinabatangan.

On July 18, Abu Sayyaf gunmen kidnapped five Malaysian sailors. The tugboat which the victims had boarded was found abandoned at Dent Haven waters off Lahad Datu. They are currently being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group in the southern Philippines.

On July 9, three Indonesian fishermen were kidnapped from a fishing trawler in waters near Sinakut, Lahad Datu, during curfew hours. They were reported released on Sept 18.

On April 1, Filipino gunmen captured four Malaysians after storming a tugboat near Pulau Ligitan off Semporna. They were released on June 8.