The Abu Sayyaf militant group released 10 Indonesians, crew members of a tugboat who were abducted by the group’s fighters on Mach 28 from the waters of Sulu, Philippines, according to local media. A report by Inquirer Global Nation, an Indonesian news website, said the men were freed in Sulu at about noon local time Sunday (midnight EDT Saturday).
The Inquirer report also cited the police chief of Sulu, Superindentent Wilfredo Cayat, to confirm that the men were released. The officer did not provide any more details.
“We were informed there were anonymous people who dropped the Indonesians just in front of the house of Sulu Governor (Abdusakur) Toto Tan (II),” Cayat told the Inquirer, adding: “They were brought inside, they were fed. Governor Tan called me and they turned over the 10 to our custody. We are preparing now to bring the 10 to Zamboanga and turn them to their consular official.”
The released me were identified by police officials as Peter Tonson, Julian Philip, Alvian Elvis Peti, Mahmud, Surian Syah, Surianto, Wawan Saputria, Bayu Oktavianto, Reynaldi and Wendi Raknadian. The report also cited a source to say that a ransom of 50 million Philippine pesos ($1 million) was paid to the kidnappers to rescue them. The source also told the Inquirer: “They were supposed to be freed between Friday and Saturday somewhere in Luuk town.”
The release of the 10 Indonesians follows the beheading of a Canadian man by Abu Sayyaf militants, who have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State group, after negotiations for a ransom fell through.
A report by Agence France-Presse said the condition of the freed men was not known yet. The report also added, citing authorities, that the group is believed to be still holding 11 people, including four Indonesians, four Malaysians, another Canadian, a Norwegian and a Dutch national.
On Wednesday, Philippines President Benigno Aquino said he was “appalled” by the beheading of the Canadian citizen in front of a government building in Jolo and vowed to beat back advances made by Abu Sayyaf. He also said the group’s fighters had also planned to kidnap his sister Kris and boxer Manny Pacquiao.
On Thursday, a report by Reuters said authorities in the Philippines were negotiating to arrange naval patrols with Malaysia and Indonesia to protect ships from further attacks or kidnappings by the group. The report also said the coordinated patrols were aimed at finding safe travel routes for the ships.