Abducted Indons taken to Tawi-tawi province

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (Mindanao Examiner)

MALAYSIAN authorities saidgunmen, who seized 3 Indonesians off Sabah’s Lahad Datu town, have taken their captives to Tawitawi province in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has confirmed this during a news conference, but provided no other details about the hostages – Teodorus Kopong, 42; Lorence Koten, 34; and Emanuel, 40 – except that the government will not pay any ransom.

Father Paulus Rahmat, a priest from the Catholic human rights organization Vivat International for Indonesia, said Jakarta must do its utmost to help the captives. “The government needs to take firm steps to ensure their release,” the independent Union of Catholic Asian News quoted the priest as saying, who added that “abductions at sea are a growing problem.”

Father Rahmat said the Indonesian government should tackle the problem at a regional level in order to find a comprehensive solution. “There should be a pact between the ASEAN countries to ensure that similar cases will not occur again in the future,” he said.

The trio was seized by five gunmen on July 9 while aboard a Malaysian-flagged trawler owned by Chia Tong Len. It was unknown whether the abductors, who spoke Malay and Tausug, a dialect largely used in Sulu and in some parts of Basilan and Tawi-tawi, demanded ransoms or not.

The Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command did not give any statement on the progress of its search for the hostages or if the Abu Sayyaf was behind the latest abduction. The militant group is still holding at least 10 foreigners it kidnapped in southern Philippines and Sabah.

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