SEMPORNA - Police have identified the Muktadil brothers as the key suspects in the cross-border kidnappings and murder in Sabah's east coast.
Nilson Muktadil, who is his 30s, and his 40-something brother Badong @ Adzmil Muktadil, are the main culprits and police were also hunting for a third accomplice, said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abd Rahman.
The trio are believed to have come to Semporna as illegal immigrants.
They were sighted by security forces on Thursday but they managed to evade arrest.
On June 22, The Star reported that the Muktadil brothers were born to a life of violent crime, specialising in cross-border kidnappings.
Comm Jalaluddin said the brothers were part of the southern Philippines' Tawi-Tawi island-based kidnap-for-ransom group.
He said Nilson had lived in Kampung Bangau-Bangau and was believed to be involved in the April 2 kidnapping of Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino worker Marcy Dayawan, 40.
Together with his sibling, they are believed to have over 40 men for their kidnap-for-ransom activities and four boats equipped with 40HP to 70HP outboard engines.
"The brothers are believed to be linked to four kidnapping cases, with the last involving the gunning down of a marine policeman and kidnapping of another on July 12," he told reporters yesterday.
Comm Jalaluddin's disclosure of the wanted men came three days after police launched a hunt for three intruders after they fled a police patrol.
He said they had arrested 103 illegal immigrants from three islands so far.
"We believe the people on the island settlements could have harboured the suspects," he added.
Comm Jalaluddin said he had discussed with Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun to weed out illegal immigrants in the islands as they could be moles.
There was a possibility they were illegal immigrants who wanted to "test" how stringent the curfew imposed since July 19 was, he added.
When opening the Beaufort Umno annual meeting, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the sea curfew in Sabah's east coast had been effective in curbing criminal activities there.