Suspected Abus seize more Indonesians | Global News

Suspected Abus seize more Indonesians

/ 06:08 AM April 17, 2016

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Speedboat-riding gunmen snatched four Indonesians and shot  another one aboard two tugboats in the waters between Tawi-Tawi and  Sabah on Friday, authorities reported on Saturday.

It was the third assault on vessels plying southern Philippine waters this month and brought to 23 the number of persons of various nationalities abducted by suspected Islamist militants since last year.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, told Reuters seven gunmen in a blue speedboat attacked two Indonesian flagged tugboats around 6:30 p.m. off Sitangkai in Tawi-Tawi, near the border with Sabah state.


“We don’t exactly know who took them but the only lawless group operating in that area is the Abu Sayyaf,” Tan said, adding that 10 Indonesians and four Malaysians were also abducted in two separate incidents early this month in the south.


The Indonesian foreign ministry issued a statement saying  four Indonesian crew were taken captive after the gunmen attacked the tugboats, TB Henry and TB Cristy, on their way to Kalimantan from Cebu.  Six other crewmen were left behind but one was shot.

“He is in stable condition now,” the foreign ministry said, adding that Malaysian water police evacuated the wounded crewmen to a hospital in Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah state, where the two tugboats were towed to safety.

The victims were identified as  Indonesians Mohammad Ariyanti Misnan (boat  master), Lorens M.P.S (chief master), Dede Irfan Hilmi (second officer)  and Samsir (seaman). The one shot was identified as Lambas  Simanungkalit.

The al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, which is known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, has stepped up its activities on the remote islands.

Last week, the terrorists linked to the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing of 18 soldiers and the wounding of more than 50 others in an ambush on nearby Basilan island, prompting a massive Army offensive with artillery and aerial bombings. The military claimed 28 rebels had died in the weeklong fighting.



Other hostages

On nearby Jolo island, the militants gave a final deadline on April 25 for payment of P300 million  ($6.5 million) ransom for each of  two Canadians and a Norwegian captive otherwise they would be beheaded.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists are also holding other foreigners, including one from the Netherlands and one from Japan.

There were reports the 10 Indonesian seamen kidnapped in late March were taken by an Abu Sayyaf faction to Sulu, a known hideout of the terrorist group.  Someone claiming to be with the Abu Sayyaf had called the vessel’s owners to demand a ransom for the sailors’ release.

The abductions occurring between Sabah and Mindanao prompted Malaysian  authorities on April 9 to shut down cross-border trading between Sabah and  the Philippines, a government official said.

The Malaysian government has shut down its Sabah border with the  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to cross-border or barter trade in protest of the recent kidnapping, Laisa Alamia,  ARMM executive secretary,  told reporters on Thursday.

She said Malaysian authorities had put up a naval blockade between Sabah  and Tawi-Tawi, the usual barter trade route.

The kidnapping activities are a major issue that  is  why ARMM  Gov. Mujiv Hataman is currently in Manila talking to Malacañang about  this, Alamia said.

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Alamia said talks were being held in the hope that Kuala Lumpur would reconsider its decision. Julie Alipala, with reports from Edwin Fernandez and Nash Maulana, Inquirer  Mindanao; AFP; AP

TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Philippine Waters, Sabah, Tawi-Tawi

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