JAKARTA • Indonesia has proposed joint security operations on land with Malaysia and the Philippines to pursue militants who have taken Indonesian and Malaysian sailors hostage.
The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mr Wiranto, yesterday said such joint land operations will complement the joint sea patrols the three countries have agreed to in their effort to tackle piracy and prevent other hostage-taking incidents.
Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf militants are behind a rash of kidnappings of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in the seas between the southern Philippines, Malaysia's north-east Sabah state and Indonesia's Kalimantan and northern Sulawesi island.
"(The militants) launched their attacks at sea before bringing their hostages to land. What will happen if we don't have cooperation on the ground?" said Mr Wiranto, a former general, on Tuesday.
Mr Wiranto - who was appointed to his post last week - said he had raised the idea to Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who conveyed it to his Malaysian and Philippine counterparts at their trilateral defence ministers' meeting on maritime security in Bali, which ended on Tuesday.
Mr Wiranto admitted it would not be easy to carry out joint security operations on land as this would intrude on the Philippines' jurisdiction. But he said an agreement should be concluded first to ensure the "harmonious and well-coordinated implementation" of joint operations.
After releasing several dozen Indonesian and Malaysian crew members of vessels hijacked in the Celebes and Sulu seas for millions of dollars, the Abu Sayyaf late last month kidnapped eight more sailors.
JAKARTA POST/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK