• Abu Sayyaf frees Indonesian sailors

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Sunday freed 10 Indonesian sailors held hostage for more than a month in southern Philippines, officials said.

    The hostages–Peter Tonsen Barahama, Julian Philip, Alfian Elvis, Repi Mahmud, Suriansyah Surianto, Wawan Saputka, Rilandi Bayu, Octaviayanto Wendy and Rakhadian–were abandoned near the house of Gov. Toto Tan of Sulu in the capital town of Jolo.

    Tan had the men brought inside the house and fed them.

    The governor then quickly phoned the military and police and handed the Indonesians, who were taken to an Philippine Army base where doctors examined them.

    It was not known if ransom was paid for the safe release of the hostages– who were all crew of the tugboat Brahma 12.

    The men were kidnapped on March 26 off Tawi-Tawi province near Sulu in the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    Indonesian media reported that the company that owns the tugboat–Patria Maritime Lines–was willing to pay ransom in exchange for the hostages believed held by Alhabsi Misaya, a rebel commander also tagged as behind the recent kidnappings of 4 Malaysian seamen–Wong Hung Song, 44, Wong Teck Pang, 41, Wong Teck Chi, 39, and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21– all from Sarawak in the oil-rich state of Sabah in Malaysia.

    Jakarta was said to have monitored the progress of private negotiations between the kidnappers and the ship owner.

    Indonesia earlier said it is ready to send police commandos to the Philippines to rescue the hostages.

    “There have been a lot of efforts by the local and provincial governments and the military and police in securing the safe release not only of the Indonesians, but other hostages as well. The recovery of the 10 Indonesians is good news. We hope and pray that the others may also walk freely away from their captors,” Tan told The Manila Times in a phone interview.

    The release of the Indonesians coincided with ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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