Jakarta readies commandos to rescue Indons held by Sayyaf
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 also 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 in the Philippines 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 due to nickel mining operations in Languyan.
Indonesia said it is also coordinating with the Interpol after the Abu Sayyaf demanded P50 million ransoms for the safe release of the hostages.
The Abu Sayyaf, whose group is coddling Malaysian and Indonesian militants in southern Philippines, has pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and fighting for a caliphate in the troubled region where security forces are also battling communist insurgency.
The report of the hi- jacking was first reported by Peter Tonsen Barahama, the tugboat’s skipper, after he wrote on his Facebook account that “Tug boat Brahma 12 is being hijacked, all crew are being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf. Pray for our safety and God’s protection.”
The Jakarta Post, in a report, also said information about the hijacking first came to light via the Facebook account of Barahama. “The information then spread to an Indonesian sailors group. However, Peter’s friends have not been able to contact him to obtain further information. Peter is from Sangihe Island in North Sulawesi,” the report said.
The tugboat, owned by Patria Maritime Lines, is reportedly negotiating with the hostage- takers to secure the safe release of the victims. One of Barahama’s friends, Welmy Loway, said the tugboat was carrying coal. He and other friends then contacted the Indonesian foreign ministry and authorities in Sangihe to check the information and seek help for the crewmembers.
Pirates and other criminal gangs are also actively operating in Tawi- Tawi, one of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In February 2012, Abu Sayyaf rebels under subleader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Moro National Liberation Front members kidnapped two European wildlife photographers Lorenzo Vinciguerra, from Switzerland; and Ewold Horn, 54, from Holland, in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi- Tawi.
Vinciguerra had escaped from his guards in December 2014 after he allegedly killed one of his guards - Juhurim Hussien - with a bolo and recovered by soldiers. The fate of Horn is still unknown, and aside from him, the Abu Sayyaf is still holding several other foreigners in the Muslim region.
Peter Tonsen Barahama in this photo from his Facebook account.