Ops vs. Sayyafs continue
SULU – The Philippine military said the operation against the Abu Sayyaf is continuing in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, following the recovery of two Indonesian sailors kidnapped by the jihadist group.
The two – Moh Soyfan and Ismail – were recovered separately on August 17 in Bual village in the town of Luuk where the Abu Sayyaf is hiding. Soyfan was handed over to the police and officials presented him to Governor Totoh Tan, the chairman of the provincial crisis management committee.
The military said Soyfan was spotted by villagers in a fish pen while Ismail had been recovered by troops while wandering alone in the village. The two men were among 7 crew members of tugboat Charles kidnapped near Indonesia on June 22 while heading back to East Kalimantan from a trip to the Philippines.
There were no reports on the fate of the other sailors - Ferry Arifin, the skipper; M. Mahbrur Dahri, Edi Suryono, Ismail, M.nasir, and Robin Piter. The boat is owned by PT Rusianto Brothers.
Indonesian media reported that the boat captain phoned his wife and told her that they were intercepted at sea by gunmen, who introduced themselves as Abu Sayyaf and were demanding 20 million ringgits for their safe release.
The hostages are believed being held by the group of Alhabsi Misaya, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996. Misaya had split with the MNLF and joined the Abu Sayyaf several years ago after Misuari reportedly ordered his execution for a still unknown reason, according to military intelligence reports.
The Abu Sayyaf previously kidnapped 14 Indonesian tugboat crewmembers in separate attacks at sea just this year and brought them to Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, and eventually released through the intercession of the MNLF headed by Nur Misuari.
Sulu provincial photo shows Governor Toto Tan with escaped Indonesian sailor Mohamad Soyfan who was presented by the police.