Abu Sayyaf bandits snatch 10 Indonesians off Sulu – military
ZAMBOANGA CITY – At least 10 Indonesian nationals were abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen off the waters of Sulu.
Citing reports from the Military Intelligence Group in Western Mindanao, Maj. Gen. Demy Tejares, deputy commander of the Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu and Tawi-Tawi), said the victims were crewmembers of a tugboat marked Brahman 12, which was sailing near Tambulian Island in Tapul town when armed men forcible boarded the vessel.
Tejares said the armed men were led by siblings Nickson and Brown Muktadil, both under the Abu Sayyaf group of Alhabsy Misaya.
Using a smaller vessel, the Muktadils towed the tugboat. The vessel was later recovered in the coastal village of Tubig Dakula in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi, the source said.
There are conflicting reports as to when the incident happened. Tejares said it happened Monday night, while another military source said it was on Saturday afternoon.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said they could not give details of the reported abduction even as Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri went to Sulu Tuesday morning.
Tan said Iriberri, who will be retiring on April 22, went to Sulu for a “farewell visit.”
Tan also said Westmincom (West Mindanao Command) chief Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz would not be answering questions about the kidnapping as “higher headquarters” were tasked to give statements about the incident.
But an Inquirer military source said Iriberri was in Sulu for an “advanced exit visit and to get first-hand information about the fresh abduction.”
Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan said he was demanding an explanation why foreigners could easily be abducted in Sulu waters “when troops were supposedly patrolling this sea.”
“The military and police must explain first, why there were Indonesians in Sulu waters. Why were they in a tugboat? How come, these pirates were able to detect tugboats and the Indonesians when our authorities were supposedly equipped with monitoring equipment?” Tan said.
The Inquirer source said the Indonesian captives were employed on a tugboat that works on vessels operating in an illegal mining operation in Tawi-Tawi.
Local politicians and military officers were allegedly involved in the mining operation, a source said.
The captives were identified as Peter B. Tonson, Julian Philip, Alvian Elvis Peti, Mahmud, Surian Syah, Surianto, Wawan Saputra, Bayu Oktavianto, Reynaldi and Wendi Raknadian.
“Allegedly, one of the crew members, using a Taiwanese line, called the ship owner informing him that they were taken by armed men,” the source said.
“The kidnap victims are now either in Sulu or Basilan. Also, the group is asking P50 million from the tugboat owner,” the source added.
The Abu Sayyaf is a ragtag band of self-styled Islamists, which has become notorious for its kidnapping, bombing and beheading activities.
The military has been on the forefront of the campaign against the bandit group, which continues to persist amid the deaths or capture of its influential leaders in the past.
With 10 Indonesians as latest kidnap victims, the number of captives in the hands of the kidnap for ransom gang in Sulu is now two dozens.
Still in the hands of their Abu Sayyaf captors are Ewold Horn (Dutch), cousins Hajan Perong and Joshua Bani (Filipino fish traders of Tawi-Tawi), Toshio Ito (Japanese treasure hunter), Yahong Tan Lim (Chinese), Dennis Cabadunga (Filipino businessman), John Ridsdel (Canadian), Robert Hall. (Canadian), Kjartan Sekkingstand (Norwegian), Marites Flor (Filipina), Rolando del Torchio (Italian), Antonio Tan and grandson Ray (Filipino-Chinese businessmen) and Ronnie Bancale (Filipino fish trader). With a report from Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao/SFM/IDL