Three Indonesian citizens and a Norwegian were kidnapped and later released by the Abu Sayyaf group last year. (Antara Photo/Reuters Photo/Nickie Butlangan)

Three Indonesian Crewmembers Reportedly Kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Militants

BY :JAKARTA GLOBE

JANUARY 23, 2017

Jakarta. Three crewmembers of an Indonesian vessel have reportedly been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines, a Foreign Ministry official said on Monday (23/01).

The Indonesians were reported missing after Malaysian authorities found their boat unoccupied in waters off Taganak in Sabah last Thursday at 1.09 p.m.

"As of this time, the Malaysian authorities have conducted an investigation but have not reached a conclusion. However, our sources in the Philippines have confirmed that the three Indonesians were moved to Sulu Island in the southern Philippines," said Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the director of citizen protection and legal aid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as reported by state news agency Antara.

One of the victims has informed his family in Indonesia that he has been taken hostage, Lalu added.

The crews of three other boats reportedly witnessed the attack, but they have not been questioned.

The Indonesian consulates general in Kinabalu and Tawau are communicating with Malaysian authorities to get updates on the investigation.

There have been 16 attacks since last March last year on ships passing through the Sulu and Celebes seas, through which about $40 billion worth of cargo passes each year, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

The government-backed anti-piracy organization says over a dozen crewmembers are currently being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf militants, all of them kidnapped from ships sailing through the Sulu and Celebes seas.

In December, Abu Sayyaf militants released two Indonesian crewmembers who had been held hostage in the separatists' stronghold in the southern Philippines.

The men were among seven crewmembers of the tugboat Charles 001, who were abducted in separate attacks in June last year by Abu Sayyaf rebels, a group linked to Al-Qaeda and infamous for kidnappings and beheading their captives.

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