Abus free 10 Indon sailors PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 May 2016 11:26

The ISIS-aligned Abu Sayyaf freed on Sunday 10 Indonesian sailors they seized from a tugboat on March 26 along the Malaysia-Philippines border, officials said.

Officials said the hostages – Peter Tonsen Barahama, Julian Philip, Alfian Elvis, Repi Mahmud, Suriansyah Surianto, Wawan Saputka, Rilandi Bayu, Octaviayanto Wendy and Rakhadian - were abandoned near the house of Governor Toto Tan in the capital town of Jolo.

Tan’s security guards noticed the men and asked who they were and upon learning they are Indonesians, the governor was immediately informed.

He ordered the men inside the house where they had been fed. A video of the freed hostages was also taken for documentary purposes while they were feasting on fried chicken and fish, and rice.

Tan told the Indonesians: “This (video) is only a proof to show that you are together with me, so when you go back to Zamboanga, when you go back to Indonesia, I will be the one to tell them that you are free. The (army) general is coming to pick you up and to bring you to the hospital for medical check up and then you fly (back home.)”

The governor quickly phoned the military and police about the Indonesians and handed them over to the authorities and brought to an army base where doctors examined them.

It was unknown if ransoms had been paid for the safe release of the hostages – who were all crew members of the tugboat Brahma 12 kidnapped on March 26 off Tawi-Tawi province in the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Indonesian media reported that the company that owns the tugboat - Patria Maritime Lines – was willing to pay ransoms in exchange for the hostages, believed being held by Alhabsi Misaya, a rebel commander also tagged as behind the recent kidnappings of 4 Malaysian seamen - Wong Hung Song, 44, Wong Teck Pang, 41, Wong Teck Chi, 39, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21 – all from Sarawak in the oil-rich state of Sabah in Malaysia.

Jakarta was said to have monitored the progress of the private negotiations between the kidnappers and the ship owner. Indonesia earlier said that it is ready to send police commandos to the Philippines to rescue the hostages.

“There have been a lot of efforts by the local and provincial government and the military and police in securing the safe release not only of the Indonesians, but other hostages as well. The recovery of the ten Indonesians is good news. We hope and pray that the others may also walk freely away from their captors,” Tan told Mindanao Examiner.

The release comes as military operations were intensified against the Abu Sayyaf . There were no immediate statement from the military’s Western Mindanao Command and the police in the Muslim autonomous region about the release.

It also comes a week after the militant group beheaded a Canadian hostage John Ridsdel after his family and government failed to pay P300 million ransom.

The group is also holding Dutchman Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi; Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – who were all seized from the posh resort of Samal Island in Davao del Norte province; and Japanese treasure hunter Toshio Ito also known as Amir Katayama Mamaito.

Meanwhile, DZT sources said that ransom was allegedly paid last Friday for the 10 sailors’ freedom.

Officials were expecting the arrival of the freed kidnap victims in the city late Sunday.

Last April 20, Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the company the sailors worked for, Patria Maritime Lines, had agreed to pay $1 million or Rp 14.3 billion worth of ransom for their release.

The 10 Indonesian sailors were on a tugboat pulling a barge sailing from Borneo island to the Philippines when they it was hijacked, by Abu Sayyaf gunmen on a wooden motor boat.

The vessel owners received a ransom call from someone claiming to be from the Abu Sayyaf militant group on the same day. — Al Jacinto and Ely Dumaboc with report from Dan Toribio Jr.