Family members of three fishermen who were kidnapped by gunmen in the east coast of Sabah on Monday are hoping that they will be released soon.

SANDAKAN: Family members of three fishermen who were kidnapped by gunmen in the east coast of Sabah on Monday are hoping that they will be released soon.

The Indonesian fishermen; Maharudin Lunani, 48, his son Muhammad Farhan, 27, and crew member Samiun Maneu, 27, were abducted by seven armed men, believed to be part of a kidnap-for-ransom group, off Tambisan waters, Lahad Datu, on Monday.

Samiun's brother, Masiudin, said there had been no ransom calls yet from the kidnappers.

"We are hoping for their safe release.

"Samiun has a six-year-old son, who is now under my care. Until now, he does not know that his father has been kidnapped," he said when contacted today.

Masiudin said although fishermen like him were aware of kidnapping threats, they had no choice but to continue plying their trade.

He said their fears had been mounting following the death of fisherman Jari Abdullah who was shot by the Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippines last April.

"Jari was our cousin and we work under the same fishing boat company. When the incident happened, we were all scared. But where else can we go and work?" he added.

Yesterday, Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali confirmed that security forces had identified a kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group involved in the incident and believed the victims had been taken to Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines.