The Jakarta Post
An Indonesian fisherman held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group has died following a shootout between the Philippines security force and militants in the coastal town of Patikul in Sulu on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed.
The fisherman, identified as LB, was among five Indonesian sailors abducted by the militant group in January and held captive in the southern Philippines.
Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the gun battle between security personnel of Joint Task Force Sulu and the 45th Battalion Infantry with the Abu Sayyaf group occurred at 8 a.m. local time.
LB's body has been flown from Sulu to a funeral house in Zamboanga City aboard a Filipino military aircraft, she said.
“On behalf of the government, I would like to express my deep condolences to the family of the victim,” Retno said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
The ministry has told LB’s family and the Buton administration in Southeast Sulawesi of his death, she added.
She asserted that the Indonesian government would continue to coordinate with the Philippines on the status of the four other hostages.
“The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] is committed to finding and rescuing them,” Retno said.
On Jan. 16, six members from a faction of the Abu Sayyaf group — a loose association of militants who kidnap for ransom — abducted five Indonesian fishermen from their fishing boat in Sabah’s easternmost waters off Lahad Datu, Malaysia, about 10 minutes from the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in the southern Philippines.
The hostages were part of an eight-man crew aboard a Sabah-registered fishing vessel before armed gunmen took them to the southern Philippines, where the Abu Sayyaf operate.
The militant group began targeting Indonesian sailors in 2016. As many as 39 people had been abducted before the January kidnapping, although the government has denied claims it has paid the ransom demands to release the hostages.