The Jakarta Post
The government has denounced rumors that the Abu Sayyaf terror group set a ransom deadline of April 8 as "false information", amid efforts to free 10 Indonesian sailors kidnapped by the group.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the purported deadline, which fell on Friday last week, had been invented by the media, and that the government had never mentioned any specific date.
"We don't know where that date came from. Our focus is on getting the hostages released ASAP," he told reporters in Jakarta on Monday.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi reiterated that the Philippine and Indonesia governments were continuing to conduct intense communication and coordination.
In the wake of a deadly battle between Philippine troops and Abu Sayyaf extremists on Saturday, Retno conveyed her "concern, sympathy and condolences" to that nation, while stressing that she was in constant communication with her Philippine counterpart.
Philippine officials reported that 18 soldiers had been killed and 53 others wounded in a day-long encounter with the militants. The fighting in the neighboring towns of Tipo Tipo and Al-Barka on Basilan Island also left five militants dead, including one Moroccan.
Retno added that paperwork related to the Anand 12 barge, which is currently being held by Malaysian authorities after it was found in the waters off Lahad Datu in Sabah state, was still being processed.
The Anand 12 was one of two Indonesian-flagged vessels manned by the 10 Indonesian crewmen kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group, which has demanded a payment 15 billion (US$1.14 million) in return for the hostages' release. (ags)
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