The Jakarta Post
Five Indonesian boat crew members who evaded a kidnapping attempt by a Philippine militant group arrived back in Jakarta on Saturday, after the hijack of their vessels in mid-April. However, 14 Indonesians continue to be held by the notorious group.
The crew members were working on the Henry tugboat and Christy barge when the militant group took over the vessels as they sailed through Malaysian and Philippine waters on April 15.
The five returned Indonesians are Yohanis Serang, Sembara Oktafian, Rohaidi, Royke Frans Montolalu and Rumawi. Malaysian authorities, who secured the Henry and Christy, handed over the crew members to the Indonesian government on April 21.
"Five are already in Jakarta and one is still in Tawau [in Sabah state, Malaysia]," Muhammad Iqbal, director of Indonesian citizens at the Foreign Ministry, said as quoted by tempo.co on Sunday.
One crewmember named Lambas Simanungkalit remained in Malaysia as he was shot by the Abu Sayyaf group during the hijacking.
After the incident, the two vessels were returned to Tarakan, North Kalimantan, escorted by Malaysia's water police. The vessels have now arrived in Jakarta.
During the hijacking, Abu Sayyaf members failed to take over the Henry and the Christy as Malaysian authorities protected the vessels. However, four of the vessels’ Indonesian crewmembers did not evade the kidnapping and were taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf members who used speed boats to retreat to Tawi-Tawi waters in the Philippines.
The four joined 10 other Indonesian hostages from the tugboat Brahma 12 and the barge Anand 12, which were hijacked in late March. The notorious group has asked for a US$1 million ransom for the crew.
The government was prioritizing the safety of the 14 Indonesians being held, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Saturday.
"Based on the information we received, Alhamdulillah [thank God] the Indonesian crew are in good condition. We keep making efforts," she said as quoted by tempo.co, adding that the government had intensified communications with the Philippine government to reach a solution. (rin)
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