ZAMBOANGA CITY: Indonesia is ready to send elite police commandos to the Philippines to rescue 10 of its citizens being held for ransom by the jihadist group Abu Sayyaf.
Manila and Jakarta have confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped the Indonesians off Tawi-Tawi province near the Malaysian border.
Jakarta said the police commandos are ready to rescue the hostages who are being held by Alhabsi Misaya, a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader tagged as behind the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in Mindanao.
A report by the Straits Times on Wednesday quoted Indonesian police spokesman Anton Charliyan as saying that elite squads from an anti-terrorism unit and a police mobile brigade are ready to assist in the rescue of the crew of the tugboat Brahma 12.
The boat was on its way to Batangas province in Luzon when intercepted by gunmen near Languyan Island on March 26.
It was unknown why the Philippine military and police forces failed to protect the Indonesian boat despite the huge presence of security forces in Tawi-Tawi because of nickel mining operations in Languyan.
Indonesia said it is also coordinating with the Interpol after the Abu Sayyaf demanded P50 million in ransom for the safe release of the hostages.
The Abu Sayyaf, whose group is coddling Malaysian and Indonesian militants in southern Philippines, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
But the Philippine military said the kidnappers may be spreading disinformation on the status of the hostages to mislead government forces who are after them.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said a number of reports have reached the military and these are being validated carefully.
“Tulad ng sabi ko, madaming mga initial information na nakita pero hangga’t di pa po natin ito na-validate, natingnan at nasuring mabuti, maaari po itong nilalagay lang dun para malinlang ang mga nag-iimbestiga [There were pieces of information that had been floated. We have to validate and examine these carefully because these may have been circulated to mislead the investigators],” he added.
Padilla said the huge of volume of information came after government troops applied pressure on the “enemy” in Basilan and Jolo.
He added that there is a “high-level consultation” between the Philippines and Indonesia but he is not at liberty to discuss it.