Friday, March 19, 2021

3 Indon hostages rescued, Sayyaf man captured in Tawi-Tawi

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Philippine authorities on Friday said three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped last year by the Abu Sayyaf were rescued, and one of their Filipino captors was captured after their boat capsized off Tawi-Tawi province while fleeing from a military operation in nearby Sulu province.

Police photo of the rescued Indonesian fishermen. (The Star)

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said security forces are also holding another Filipino after he was rescued by a passing ship off Pasigan Island near South Ubian.


He identified the Indonesian hostages as Riswanto Bin Hayono, Arical Kastamiran, and Arsyad Bin Dahalan, and the Abu Sayyaf captor as Sahud Salisim alias Ben Wagas. The other Filipino has been identified also as Bensal Jakare, but it was unknown whether he is also an Abu Sayyaf fighter.


The Indonesians said they were escorted by 5 Abu Sayyaf terrorists and heading to Tawi-Tawi when their boat was battered by huge waves and capsized late Friday. They did not say whether Jakare was among their Abu Sayyaf guards.


Policemen in South Ubian spotted the four men at a coastal area and quickly informed the military about it. It was during questioning when security forces discovered that 3 of the men are Indonesian fishermen kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in January last year.


Security forces were sent to the area to search for the other Abu Sayyaf captors.


The rescued Indonesians were among 5 fishermen kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf off Tambisan waters in Lahad Datu town in Sabah near the Philippine border.


Eight gunmen hijacked their trawler and kidnapped five of the eight crew members, one of the hostages was identified by the Indonesian news agency Antara as Arsyad Abdullah, the boat’s skipper. It was unclear if Abdullah was the same man Vinluan identified as Arsyad Bin Dahalan.


Vinluan said one of the Indonesian hostages whom he did not name was killed by the Abu Sayyaf in September last year while trying to escape. The fate of the fifth hostage is unknown.


“The kidnapped victims are among five Indonesian nationals working for a Malaysian fishing firm abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters off Tambisan, Malaysia on January 17, 2020. One of them was killed by their abductors while trying to escape during an encounter in Patikul (town) in Sulu on September 29, 2020,” he said.


Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said the Abu Sayyaf terrorists are now on the run due to ongoing military operations against them in Sulu. “They are evading the ongoing intensive military operations in Sulu so they sailed to Tawi-Tawi bringing along the captives with them onboard a jungkong (wooden speedboat). While sailing, the watercraft was hit by big waves and capsized,” he said.


“Another passenger of the jungkong was rescued by a (passenger) vessel along Silandat Island, South Ubian and this was identified as Bensal Jakare, of Indanan (town) in Sulu,” he said.


The Indonesian government has been notified by the rescue of the hostages who are now under the custody of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 in Tawi-Tawi province.


Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division in Sulu province, said the operations against the pro-ISIS group are going on. “We continuously bolstered our offensives to pressure the Abu Sayyaf to release the hostages which forced them to look for a safer refuge,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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