“To handle this case, the ministry continues to communicate and coordinate with all related institutions in Indonesia and the Philippines, including the foreign affairs minister of the Philippines,” said Arrmanatha Nasir, spokesman of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our priority is the safety of all 10 Indonesians held hostage,” the statement added.
The crewmen were on board two tugboats called Brahma 12 and Anand 12, which were reportedly carrying 7,000 tons of coal, en route from Puting river in Banjarmasin in Indonesia’s South Kalimantan province to the Batangas in the Philippines.
Reports from Manila said that local authorities found one of the tugboats abandoned at Languyan island, Tawi-tawi province on Monday afternoon.
Arrmanatha said Brahma 12 was already in the custody of officials in the Philippines while the other vessel and crewmen were still held hostage.
A report said authorities in the Philippines have received a demand for ransom equivalent to at least 1 million U.S. dollars for the crew’s release.
The 400-strong Abu Sayyaf, founded in the early 1990s by Islamic extremists, is a violent terrorist group operating in southern Philippines. The group is notorious for a series of kidnappings, bombings and beheadings over the decades. Enditem