Jakarta. Three Indonesian fishermen, taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines 20 months ago, were released last weekend and reunited with their families on Tuesday (18/09).
Hamdan bin Saleng, Sudarlining bin Samansunga and Subandi bin Sattu – all from South Sulawesi – were working on the Malaysian fishing vessel BN 838/4/F when they were abducted near Taganak Island in the Sulu Sea on Jan. 18 last year.
After their release in the Sulu Archipelago on Saturday afternoon, the men were taken to a military base in Zamboanga for health checks and trauma counseling.
"By utilizing our field assets and with support from the Philippine government, thank God, we have succeeded in securing their release," Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir said, as quoted in a statement on Wednesday.
At least 36 Indonesians have been abducted by armed groups in the southern Philippines since 2016, according to data provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All but two have now been released, the ministry said.
The two Indonesian fishermen still being held hostage were abducted from the Malaysian fishing vessel Dwi Jaya I near Gaya Island in Sabah on Sept. 11. They have been identified as Samsul Saguni and Usman Yunus, both from West Sulawesi.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has contacted her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, after the latest incident to request security for Indonesian fishermen working on Malaysian vessels, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of citizen protection and legal aid at the Foreign Ministry, said last week.
"The Indonesian consulates in Kinabalu and Tawau have issued advisories to all Indonesians working on fishing vessels in Sabah to stop sailing until the security situation returns to normal and the local authorities issue security guarantees," Iqbal said.
The Indonesian government is still trying to obtain full details of the latest incident, while working to secure the hostages' release, he said.