The Jakarta Post
The Philippine government has handed over the remaining four Indonesian sailors previously held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants, and their return to Jakarta is now expected within a day.
"They are currently onboard a KRI warship in waters bordering Indonesia and the Philippines where the handover was conducted," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told journalists on Thursday.
Following their release, the hostages were in the hands of local authorities in Sulu, where the men underwent a medical check-up before their return.
A team from Indonesia was deployed to their location and confirmed that the men were in good condition.
Arrmanatha said the crewmen would immediately sail to Indonesia, and their arrival was expected in the capital city on late Thursday or Friday afternoon.
He said a recent trilateral meeting between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia had played an important part in contributing to the swift release of the hostages.
Foreign ministers and military commanders of the countries mentioned above met in Yogyakarta on May 5 to discuss maritime security.
The spokesman refused to disclose details behind the release. He said government discretion was in the interests of the safety of those involved.
Citing the complex situation in the southern Philippines, Arrmanatha said revealing identities and details of the negotiation processes could pose a danger to the participants.
"Since the very beginning, the government's priority has been the safe release of the hostages," he said.
As with the release of ten sailors earlier this month, the negotiations involved many elements from both government and non-governmental parties, Arrmanatha added.
The four sailors worked as crewmembers onboard the Henry, a tugboat, and the Christie, a barge, sailing in Malaysian and Philippine waters in mid-April when they were taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf militant group. (dan)
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