Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Indonesian Military to Move In on Abu Sayyaf's Hideouts in Southern Philippines to Release Hostages

From the Jakarta Globe (Jul 12): Indonesian Military to Move In on Abu Sayyaf's Hideouts in Southern Philippines to Release Hostages

The Indonesian Military (TNI) are finalizing plans for a military operation to release ten Indonesian ship crews who have been held hostage by armed rebel groups in Southern Philippines, TNI Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said on Monday (11/07).

The Philippine government agreed late last month on allowing Indonesian soldiers to enter its territory to release hostages, but procedures for such a move have yet to be determined.

"We will do everything to ensure the safe return of those ship crews. We will go to Southern Philippines once a permission is issued," the TNI Chief said.

In the fourth such incident in five months, three Indonesian ship crews were abducted by an armed group near Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia, last Saturday.

The armed group is allegedly part of the notorious Abu Sayyaf rebel group based in the islands of Basilan in the Sulu archipelago.

"These kidnappings have gone too far. Both Malaysia-held and Philippine-held area are unsafe," Gatot said. "Maybe we have been too lenient on the kidnappers. A military operation may scare them away."

Three weeks before the kidnapping in Malaysia, seven Indonesian sailors were kidnapped in two separate locations by two armed groups who were also members of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group in the Sulu Sea in Southern Philippines.

"These kidnappings cannot be tolerated," Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday.

"I have communicated with the Philippine foreign minister and the Malaysian foreign minister to call for their attention over this spate of kidnappings."

In early May, ten Indonesian hostages were released following a series of negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf group, who held them hostage for more than a month.

Ten days later, four other Indonesians who were abducted by a different chapter of the group, notorious for kidnappings and demanding millions of dollars in ransom, were also released.


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