The Jakarta Post
The government knows nothing about any ransom paid to the Abu Sayyaf militant group to free four Indonesian sailors being held hostage by the group, a minister has said.
"We don't know about that [a ransom]. The most important thing is that they [the hostages] have returned to Indonesia safely," Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told journalists in Jakarta.
Ryamizard was responding to questions about whether another party such as the sailors’ employer Global Trans Energi had paid a ransom to the militant group.
He stressed that the government had not paid to free the hostages.
The process of releasing the hostages could be implemented relatively quickly, Ryamizard said, because Philippines President Benigno Aquino III was strict and quick-witted and he knew about the movement of militant groups like Abu Sayyaf.
The rescue was also made possible by intensive coordination between Indonesian authorities and their counterparts in the Philippines, Ryamizard said.
The four sailors, who were employed as crew aboard the Henry, a tugboat towing the barge Christie, were sailing in Malaysian and Philippine waters in mid-April when they were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group.
The hostages were handed over to Philippine authorities on Wednesday, after 25 days in Abu Sayyaf captivity near the Sulu islands in southern Philippines.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi praised the Indonesian Military (TNI) for their performance and hard work in monitoring and safeguarding the hostages until they arrived back at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta on Friday morning.
In order to prevent any kidnapping or piracy in the waters of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, Ryamizard said the countries would immediately perform joint patrols and intensify communication. "We should prevent our seas becoming an area where piracy happens, like the waters off Somalia," Ryamizard said.
Recently, the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, made a joint declaration on maritime security to tackle threats in their regional waters, in which joint patrols as well as timely information and intelligence sharing will be enhanced. (bbn)
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