The Jakarta Post
The successful release of four Indonesian sailors in the Philippines was due to intensive efforts by the Indonesian Military (TNI), Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has asserted.
The government conveyed its special appreciation to TNI officials who had given their best in monitoring and guarding the hostages until they arrived safely on Indonesian soil, Retno said in Jakarta on Friday.
"Without the role of the TNI, freeing the hostages would have been a difficult task," Retno said.
Besides the role of TNI, the release had also been made possible by intensive cooperation between the government and Philippine authorities, Retno said, without providing details on the operation.
She made the statements after the arrival of four crewmen at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta at 10:20 a.m. on Friday, following their release from the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines.
Military officials, including TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, joined the Foreign Minister in welcoming the sailors back to Indonesia.
Army Strategic Reserves commander (Pangkostrad) Let. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi, who apparently lead the rescue operation, explained that TNI had been on standby with five warships for over a month at its Tarakan base in North Kalimantan, from where they kept monitoring the situation of the sailors.
Upon receiving information that Abu Sayyaf had handed over the hostages to Philippine authorities on Wednesday, 25 days after they had been kidnapped, he immediately briefed military personnel to enter Philippine waters, Edy said.
The TNI had closely coordinated with the Philippines Navy when they entered the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEC), 12 miles from Zulu Islands in the country's south, where the four sailors had finally been handed over to Indonesian authorities, Edy went on to say.
"I don't know whether a ransom was paid or not. My duty is only to save and secure the Indonesian sailors, it is the command from TNI commander," Edy said.
He asserted that no private entity had been involved in the rescue, but only TNI personnel, who had picked up the sailors.
The sailors would be brought to the Gatot Subroto Army Central Hospital in Central Jakarta for a medical checkup before they would be handed over to their families, Retno added.
The handover ceremony would take place at the Foreign Ministry’s offices on Friday afternoon. (bbn)
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