Indonesia locates area sailors being held by Abu Sayyaf

7 Indonesians among 13 crew travelling on tugboat when attacked by Filipino gunmen last week

Indonesia locates area sailors being held by Abu Sayyaf

World Bulletin / News Desk

Indonesia says it knows the whereabouts of seven of its citizens abducted by a Daesh-affiliated militant group from a tugboat in the Sulu Sea last week, and all are thought to be in a good condition.

Speaking to media Tuesday, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said that Indonesia continued to coordinate with the Philippines on the issue.

"The hostages are constantly on the move, but in a good condition," quoted Marsudi as saying.

"They continue to move and are expected to remain around Jolo on the island province of Sulu".

Jolo is the provincial capital of Sulu, a bastion of the Philippines' violent Abu Sayyaf group, which has played a role in kidnapping at least 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors between April and June.

On June 24, Marsudi announced that seven of 13 crew members on a tugboat, which had been towing a barge carrying coal, had been kidnapped by Filipino gunmen in the latest hijacking in the region’s seas.

Philippines Army Spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr. confirmed earlier reported that the boat's captain, who was among those abducted, had called his wife in Indonesia to relay their kidnappers’ demands for payment of a 20 million Malaysian ringgit ($4.9 million) ransom.

Indonesia's Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu confirmed Monday that the perpetrators were the Abu Sayyaf. 

He added that Filipino soldiers knew their location, and had surrounded them.

"They [the Abu Sayyaf] have moved them from the north of the province of Sulu to the south. They gathered there".

On Sunday, Ryacudu travelled to the Philippines where he met with Defense Minister Voltaire T Gazmin to discuss the situation, and a plan to hold joint security patrols along with Malaysia on the border of the three countries.

The plan would allow boats from either country to pursue kidnappers into the other countries' maritime areas, particularly in the Sulu Sea, to beef up regional security and thwart criminal activities.

On Tuesday, he said that the countries needed to discuss how such pursuits would also take place on the mainland.

"Previously, the Indonesian army could not enter [the Philippines], and the ship had to wait outside. Now, we will enter, [but] we have to report to the correct body," quoted Ryacudu as saying.

The Sulu Sea is a popular route for cargo and passenger ships, with some vessels falling prey to pirates and kidnappers, while others use the route for smuggling.

Kidnap-for-ransom gangs also frequently operate in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

They are known to hand over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.

The kidnappers use isolated sea-lanes and coastal areas to grab their victims, who are then held captive in isolated villages in the Mindanao island region.

Last week, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a second Canadian hostage after a deadline set by the group for the delivery of a 600 million peso ($13 million) ransom was missed.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group - armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles - has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Haziran 2016, 15:38