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Philippines: Turks rescued in Abu Sayyaf waters

Ahmed Tabran, Burcu Botanoglu reported to have sent out distress call after sailboat’s engine broke down in waters patrolled by Daesh-linked group

Philippines: Turks rescued in Abu Sayyaf waters


By Hader Glang

ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines

Two Turkish people have been rescued after their boat’s engine stalled in a Southeast Asian seaway notorious for kidnappings by Daesh-linked groups.

Lt. Jose Covarrubias, Naval Forces Western Mindanao spokesperson, told reporters Monday that the Turks’ sailboat had been heading from Samal Island in the Philippines' Davao del Norte province to Malaysia’s easternmost state of Sabah when it started to drift in the Sulu/Celebes Sea.

Sabah is the closest state to the Philippines south, between which lie various island hotbeds of Abu Sayyaf activity. In 2014, two German tourists were kidnapped sailing to Sabah, and only freed -- under the threat of beheading -- when a ransom was reportedly paid.

"We received a distress call from the sailboat ‘Stormbird’ after its engine broke down while traversing Basilan [province]," Covarrubias said.

Ahmed Tabran, 60, and Burcu Botanoglu, 54, told reporters that they were grateful for the navy’s quick response.

After its engine stalled, the boat had drifted toward Zamboanga City and was towed by patrol boats to Western Mindanao Command’s naval base in the regional hub.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- which has sworn allegiance to Daesh -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions 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.

The group gained notoriety in the late 1990s and early 2000s for a daring raid on a resort on the Malaysian oceanic island of Sipadan, from where it snatched 20 tourists, mostly Europeans.

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