The Jakarta Post
Seven Indonesian sailors held hostages by militant groups in The Philippines are reported to have been divided into two groups and sent to locations on different islands in the southern Philippines, Defense Ministry Ryamizard Ryacudu said on Friday.
"Three people have been taken to Lapac Island, while four remain in Panamao, Jolo Island. [The distance] is about 64 kilometers," Ryamizard said on Friday, discussing the location of the sailors kidnapped in Philippine waters on June 20.
The main reason behind the transfer remains unknown, but the government suspects that the decision to separate the sailors may be related to financial interest.
Recently-inaugurated President Rodrigo Duterte continues to allow Indonesia to assist Philippines’ military personnel, Ryamizard said.
Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan acknowledged that the information on the transfer of three Indonesian sailors to Lavac Island was correct. He further explained that the government could not disclose any further information as it could be dangerous for the hostages.
Indonesia respected the inter-country cooperation efforts to secure the hostages, he said, adding that the government was dependent on information provided by Philippines’ intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said that -- even though both countries had tracked the current location of the hostages -- the militants might keep moving, taking the sailors along with them.
"TNI plan to keep updated on the status of the seven Indonesian sailors and the demands from their kidnappers," Gatot said. (rin)
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