17:29 GMT10 July 2020
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    Suspected militants of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), operating in the southern Philippines, kidnapped two Malaysian nationals in the bordering state of Sabah, local media reported Thursday.

    BALI (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, four armed men stormed a seafood restaurant in the town of Sandakan in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, taking away a manager and a customer, The Star, a local English language newspaper said.

    "They fled in a boat. There wore no mask and there was no shooting," the restaurant owner was quoted as saying by The Star.

    Malaysian security forces are currently investigating the incident and have already informed their Philippines colleagues since the preliminary data of the probe indicated that the kidnappers came from southern Philippines and might be linked to Abu Sayyaf group.

    Abu Sayyaf rose to prominence in the early 2000s. It is notorious for ransom kidnappings.

    In 2001, the militants kidnapped 20 people, including three Americans, at a Philippine resort and demanded ransom payments. The ASG beheaded one of the American captives and held the other two on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines.

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