10 Indonesia sailors kidnapped by Philippine militants
Indonesian officials have confirmed reports that 10 nationals of the country have been kidnapped by militants from the Philippines.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that a tugboat and coal barge have been hijacked by the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militant group in the two countries’ border region. The statement did not elaborate when the kidnapping happened but said that the owner of the vessels had received a call on Saturday from Abu Sayyaf, demanding a ransom.
Other reports suggested that hijackers on a wooden motor boat abducted the sailors Saturday as the tug, Brahma 12, and the Anand 12 barge were going from Sungai Putting in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo Island, to Batangas Province, south of the Philippine capital, Manila.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi confirmed that the hijackers had demanded a ransom, but would not elaborate, saying Indonesia’s priority would be the safety of the 10 nationals being held hostage.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said that it believes the barge, which is carrying 7,000 tons of coal, is still under the control of the hostage-takers.
Military officials in the Philippines said they are trying to verify reports that the Indonesians were taken to the southern province of Sulu, the main stronghold for Abu Sayyaf which is located some 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila. Philippine military chief, General Hernando Iriberri, has reportedly paid a visit to Sulu to coordinate efforts for locating the Indonesian nationals.
Abu Sayyaf, a group outlawed by the Philippines and the United States, has been behind some high-profile bombings, extortions and kidnappings in the volatile south of the Philippines over the past years. Officials in Manila still blame the group for last year’s abductions of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman from a marina on southern Samal Island.