Indonesia has urged Malaysia to rescue two Indonesian fishermen who were kidnapped in Sabah by a Philippine armed group earlier this month.
"We want the Sabah Police to not only pass on ransom demands from the kidnappers, but also to facilitate in the release of the two Indonesian citizens held hostage in the Sabah region," the Foreign Ministry's Indonesian citizen protection director, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Sabah Police said the group believed to have abducted the fishermen -- identified as Samsul Saguni, 40, and Usman Yunus, 35 -- had demanded a ransom of RM4 million for their release, the Star reported on Tuesday.
"The wife of one of the victims, who is in Sulawesi, Indonesia, received a call from the Philippines," Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said as quoted by the Star.
Iqbal said the fishermen had followed all standard operating procedures when they were abducted, indicating that the incident took place because of the worsening security in the waters off Malaysia.
Samsul and Usman, both from West Sulawesi, were kidnapped on Sept. 11 while working on a Malaysian-flagged fishing vessel, the Dwi Jaya I.
According to the Star, they were abducted off the coast of Semporna, a town in eastern Sabah that is seen as "the gateway for cross-border travel, especially to the troubled Sulu Island chain in the Philippines".
It was the first kidnapping since trilateral maritime patrols between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines kicked off last year.