ZAMBOANGA CITY: Indonesia has said it 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 Indonesian tugboat crewmen off Tawi-Tawi province near the Malaysian border.
Jakarta said police commandos are ready to rescue the hostages, who are being by Alhabsi Misaya, a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader tagged as behind the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
A report by The Straits Times on Wednesday has 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 crewmen of the tugboat Brahma 12.
The boat was heading to Batangas province in Luzon when gunmen intercepted them 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, owing to nickel mining operations in Languyan.
Indonesia said it is also coordinating with the Interpol after the Abu Sayyaf demanded a P50-million 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 of Iraq and Syria. It is also fighting for a caliphate in the troubled region, where security forces are likewise battling communist insurgency. AL JACINTO