ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two Indonesian sailors who were kidnapped last June off Sabah in Malaysia were freed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Monday after nearly six months in captivity.
Officials said Mohammad Nazer and Robin Peter, crew of the tugboat Charles 00, were released to the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Indanan town in Sulu.
It was unknown if Jakarta paid ransoms to the Abu Sayyaf, but Army spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan insisted that the hostages were released because of pressure from both the MNLF and the Philippine military.
Tan said the Abu Sayyaf freed the sailors to an MNLF leader, Tahir Sali.
The MNLF later turned over the hostages to acting Sulu Gov. Nurunisah Tan, who immediately contacted the military and handed over the two sailors to Col. Jesus Mananquil, the task force commander.
The sailors were brought to Zamboanga City and underwent medical examination.
The Indonesians were part of a group of seven sailors abducted by the bandits and brought to Sulu.
The other sailors had been freed after Jakarta reportedly paid huge ransoms to the ASG.
The boat–owned by PT Rusianto Brothers–was heading to Samarinda in East Kalimantan from the Philippines when gunmen on speedboats intercepted the vessel. AL JACINTO