Indonesia to set up 'crisis centre' after kidnappings

JAKARTA • Indonesia will set up a crisis centre, headed by President Joko Widodo, to handle security situations involving its citizens overseas, a senior minister said yesterday, following recent abductions of Indonesian sailors in Philippine waters.

The centre will include senior ministers and military and police chiefs and will be designed to respond quickly to situations that could have a "strategic impact", chief security minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters.

"We hope this will be (operational) as soon as possible," he said.

Since coming to power in 2014, Mr Joko has placed maritime security high on his government's agenda.

Up to 18 Indonesians and Malaysians have been kidnapped in recent weeks in Philippine waters by groups suspected of ties to the Abu Sayyaf militant network.

Abu Sayyaf, which has posted videos on social media pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has demanded 50 million pesos (S$1.4 million) to free the hostages, but the Indonesian government has said it does not intend to pay the ransom.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia to set up 'crisis centre' after kidnappings'. Print Edition | Subscribe