Indonesia, Philippines join hands to free sailor kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf terror group

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (above) said Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana has promised to work hard to set the hostage free. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (XINHUA) - The Indonesian and Philippine governments are working together to secure the release of an Indonesian national being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines.

Mr Muhammad Farhan, 27, and two fellow sailors were kidnapped by the group in September in the waters off Sabah in Malaysia, but the other two were freed recently.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Thursday (Dec 26) said Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana has promised to work hard to set the hostage free.

"I have communicated with the Philippine Defence Minister over the effort to free one hostage. We asked for a rescue effort to immediately free the hostage alive, and the Philippine Defence Minister said that he will work hard for the rescue mission," said Ms Retno.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto will meet his Philippine counterpart to discuss the mission, said Ms Retno, according to local media.

The kidnap of the three Indonesian nationals by the Abu Sayyaf group came to light when a hostage video was released some weeks ago, with one of the hostages stating that the abductors were demanding a ransom of 8 billion rupiah (S$777,317), according to the Foreign Ministry.

The three Indonesians worked for a fishing firm in Malaysia.

The abduction of the three persons took the number of Indonesian nationals kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group to 36 since 2016. Most of them were freed, according to the ministry.

The latest kidnapping occurred despite a trilateral agreement between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for joint patrols in the waters located at the borders of the countries.

The Abu Sayyaf group is notorious for kidnapping, bombing and beheading incidents in western Mindanao of the Philippines.

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