THE Indonesian Embassy has reportedly established contact with the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which has been holding hostage 10 Indonesian sailors deep in the jungles of Sulu province, an intelligence officer disclosed Wednesday.
“The Indonesians are now negotiating for the safe release of their countrymen abducted by the ASG while their tugboat was sailing near the waters of Languyan town in Tawi-Tawi,” said the intelligence source, based in Camp Crame, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Previous reports said the 10 Indonesians, all crewmembers of a Taiwanese tugboat Brahman 12, were now in the custody of the ASG’s Tanum Group under sub-leader Muammar Askali deep in the jungles Patikul town, in Sulu province.
The Indonesians were forcibly taken by the ASG, which has demanded ransom money from the owner/operator of the Taiwanese-registered tugboat for the safe release of the hostages.
The intelligence source said the Tanum Group was also believed to be behind the abduction of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from a resort on Samal Island, Davao Oriental, on Sept. 21. The ASG has demanded for at least P3 billion for the safe release of the Samal hostages, giving April 16 as the deadline.
The Tanum Group was also tagged as behind the kidnapping of two Germans, who were yachting off the coast of Bataraza town in southern Palawan in April 2014. Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrite Dielen were freed in Oct. 2014 after the ASG received the amount of P250 million. ANTHONY VARGAS