SEMPORNA: Three Filipino fishermen on board a Malaysian fishing vessel were kidnapped by a group of heavily armed gunmen off the coast here near Pulau Pom Pom late on Saturday. The victims who were among a 16-man crew had left Semporna to fish at 4pm and anchored between Pulau Gaya and Bohey Dulang about 10.40pm to cast their nets when a speedboat with seven men believed to be South Philippine militants approached them. While an accomplice remained in the speedboat, six others armed with M-16 assault rifles and pistols jumped into the fishing boat which is called Puteri owned by a Malaysian. Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said the crew were huddled up at gunpoint and ordered to lie face down on the fishing boat. He said the gunmen ransacked the vessel and stole the crew's handphones, wallets and clothing. Abdul Rashid said the gunmen grabbed the captain of the vessel identified as Masurin in his 50's and two other crew — Loloi Alpin, and Sami, both in their 30s and ordered them into their speedboat before escaping. He said after the kidnappers left with the victims who are all Filipino Bajau, a crew member managed to call for help using a handphone the gunmen had missed. Abdul Rashid said families of the abducted crew are yet to hear from the victims or the gunmen. Over the years, the east coast of Sabah has been subjected to encroachment by South Philippines gunmen who have not only kidnapped Malaysians and foreign tourist but waged war on the country during the 2013 Lahad Datu incursion. Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry will be implementing new initiatives to boost security in Sabah including against Daesh threats and terrorist groups in the southern Philippines, said its minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. According to Bernama, he said among the new initiatives were plans by the Army to place the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Brigade at Felda Sahabat in order to beef up security in that area. "The army will also received 20 armoured 4x4 vehicles equipped with Gatling Guns which will be placed in Lahad Datu," he told reporters after officiating the Tawau Umno division delegates meeting, here. He said the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) had identified five locations to which needed added attention for command and control on security in the east coast of Sabah and the surrounding waters. He added that these locations would also be installed with Coastal Surveillance System using the Aesa Spexer 2000 radar, equipped with Automatic Identification System, Electro-Optical capability and bandwidth management equipment.