Indonesian hostage escapes in Sulu PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 August 2016 16:10

One of seven crew members of an Indonesian tugboat kidnapped by  Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu Sea has escaped, according to police and military authorities.

The seven — kidnapped mid June — were due to be executed by the ISIS-affiliated militant group Aug. 15 after a ransom deadline of $5.4 million passed.

Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr. said Mohammad Safyan, 28, had escaped Tuesday.

Citing an official report from the Sulu Provincial Police Office, Tan said Safyan was found stuck in fishing nets by locals on the shore of a town in southern Sulu around 7.30 a.m. Tuesday.

“Sayfan was seen by the residents floating and was trapped in fishnets at the place of rescue,” Tan said. “He was immediately brought by the residents to the Municipal Police Station of Luuk, Sulu.”

Safyan’s family appeared unaware that their relative had escaped when contacted by on Wednesday by Turkey state-run Anadolu Agency.

“Mashallah [My God]. Where you get the news from?” family representative Dian Megawati said on the phone, on being informed.

“It is true that Sofyan is our family, but we did not get any information until now,” she said, adding that she now hoped all the hostages would be saved.

Tan  quoted reports from ground units as saying that Safyan escaped from a mangrove farm when his captors declared that they would behead him.

Tan said Safyan — abducted from a tugboat in the Sulu Sea near the Philippines border June 23 along with six other crew — was brought to the Sulu Provincial Police Office for processing and documentation prior to being sent back to his family.

He added that troops — involved in a month-long operation to eradicate the Abu Sayyaf from Basilan — had been directed to the area to try and locate the remaining kidnap victims and rescue them.

Safyan’s escape lowers the number of Indonesian hostages in Abu Sayyaf hands to six, although it is also holding a Norwegian, a Dutchman, three Malaysians, and seven Filipinos. — With report from Dan Toribio Jr.