World, Asia - Pacific

Indonesia diplomat in Philippines to talk kidnappings

Daesh-affiliated group holding captive at least 11 Indonesian sailors kidnapped at sea earlier this year

05.08.2016
Indonesia diplomat in Philippines to talk kidnappings FILE PHOTO

By Hader Glang

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines

An Indonesian envoy is in the Philippines troubled predominantly Muslim province of Sulu to seek the release of 11 Indonesian hostages being held captive by a Daesh-affiliated group.

Indonesia’s ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary Johny Josephus Lumintang told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday that he was hoping his countrymen would soon be released by their Abu Sayyaf captors.

The notorious militant group is holding captive at least 11 Indonesian sailors, who were taken in the waters between Sabah and Tawi-tawi earlier this year.

“I would like to ask the government and the people of Sulu to help our brothers out there, to help us, because we all look the same, you see Filipinos and Indonesians are very similar in all features, we all look the same, so we need to end this [kidnapping],” Lumintang said.

“We don’t know for sure but I hope that as soon as possible, our brothers will come out safe and our brothers in the Philippines will help to release them,” he said.

Lumintang confirmed that a retired general—who personally knew Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari—was working with Sulu officials for the release of the Indonesian captives.

Misuari -- hiding out in Sulu since orchestrating a 2013 siege against the majority Christian city of Zamboanga -- is reported to have helped out the government in recovering abducted sailors.

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

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

In March and April of this year, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 17 Indonesian sailors who were later freed although it was not clear if ransoms were paid.

Two Canadians, however -- kidnapped on Samal Island resort in Davao del Norte in September 2015 with a Norwegian and Filipina -- were beheaded after ransom deadlines passed.

The Abu Sayyaf group freed the Filipina hostage unharmed in June but has kept the Norwegian captive.

The group is still holding Malaysian seamen and Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, and Philippine citizens.

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