The Jakarta Post
The seven Indonesian tugboat crew members, who were taken hostage by two separate groups of armed militants in southern Philippine waters have now been gathered together on Jolo Island, a minister has confirmed.
"They are now in one group, but they are sometimes moved around and split into two. They are constantly on the move and it is estimated that they are still on Jolo Island," Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi told journalists on Tuesday.
The Indonesian and Philippine governments continue to communicate intensively to work toward the release of the hostages. The government is prioritizing the safety of the men, said Retno.
The minister confirmed that all seven crewmen are in good condition. The government has conveyed the latest information about the hostages’ condition to their relatives and will continue to do so, Retno added.
She said the six remaining crewmen who had been set free by the militants have now returned to their families after speaking to the Indonesian Navy about the details of the incident upon their arrival in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, over the weekend.
The freed crewmen of tugboat Charles 001 and its barge Robby 152 were heading back to Samarinda, East Kalimantan, from Tagaloan in the Philippines when armed men hijacked their boat.
The crewmen said the first group of hijackers consisted of five to six armed militants and the following group consisted of eight to 10 people. (bbn)
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