ZAMBOANGA CITY: Jakarta on Friday confirmed the abduction of 7 Indonesian tugboat crew by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and said 6 other sailors had been freed and were on their way home, information received here from the Indonesian capital said.
The sailors have been identified as Ferry Arifin, the skipper of tugboat Charles OO; M. Mahbrur Dahri; Edi Suryono; Ismail; M. Nasir; M. Sofyan; and Robin Piter. The boat — owned by PT Rusianto Brothers — was heading to Samarinda in East Kalimantan after a trip from the Philippines when gunmen on speedboats intercepted it on June 29.
The crew were earlier reported to have been split into two groups but Jakarta said the others had been released and that only 7 were taken captive.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi confirmed the reports at a news conference in Jakarta.
Marsudi said the government will do everything possible to ensure the safe release of all the hostages.
The abductors fled with their hostages to Tawi-Tawi province in southern Philippines.
Indonesian media reported that the boat captain phoned his wife and told her that they were intercepted at sea by gunmen, who introduced themselves as Abu Sayyaf and were demanding 20 million ringgits for their safe release.
The Abu Sayyaf Group previously kidnapped 14 Indonesian tugboat crew in separate attacks at sea and brought them to Sulu province and eventually released through the intercession of the Moro National Liberation Front.
t has beheaded a Malaysian man and two Canadian hostages in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.