The Jakarta Post
Vice President Jusuf Kalla says the government has not prepared ransom money to free Indonesian hostages who are still being held by a militant group in the southern Philippines.
"Release efforts are still ongoing; we continue to conduct negotiations," he said on Wednesday as quoted by tempo.co.
Four Indonesians are being held in a different location to where 10 Indonesian hostages, who were recently freed, had been held, the Vice President said. He added that the group holding each cohort of Indonesians was also different.
Because of the situation, the four people had not been freed at the same time as the other 10, Kalla said.
He declined to provide further details on the negotiations, but stressed that the government never provided ransom money to ensure the release of hostages as it could lead to a repeat of similar cases.
The 10 Indonesian sailors who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group were released on May 1. The hostages were crewmen from the Brahma 12 tugboat that was hijacked in late March.
The four hostages who remain in captivity are crewmen from the TB Henry and the Crista barge, which were hijacked in April 15 en route from Cebu in the Philippines to Tarakan in North Kalimantan. The location of the hostages is suspected to be in Tawi-Tawi province in the Philippines.
Kalla said the government would the open door to any party wanting to provide assistance in the efforts to release the hostages. "We are open to those who want to help, but of course it has to be coordinated," Kalla said.
He stressed that the main priority was the safety of the men, although their release was hoped to be achieved sooner than that of the 10 crewmen, who were held for over a month. "Of course we hope the sooner the better, but it depends of the progress," said Kalla. (liz/bbn)
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