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EXCLUSIVE: Philippine army in hot pursuit of Sayyaf holding Indo hostages
Published on: Wednesday, November 06, 2019
By: Zam Yusa
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Kota Kinabalu: Three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in waters off Tambisan Island in Lahad Datu on Sept 23 and later held in Sulu have been transferred to another kidnap group leader, Daily Express has learned. 

Daily Express has also learned that the kidnap-for-ransom group holding the three fishermen has demanded a ransom of 300 million Philippine pesos (RM24.7 million) for their release and that Philippine troops have launched an operation to rescue the three. 

“I heard that the three Indonesian fishermen had been transferred from [Abu Sayyaf sub-leader] Salip Mura to another group under another leader, Apo Mike,” Indonesia's Consul-General in Sabah Krishna Djaelani told Daily Express on Monday. 

“The group kidnapping them or holding them called two days after they were kidnapped and demanded 300 milllion pesos for the release of all three.  

“The Philippine military has also bombed the position of the group holding the hostages and is in hot pursuit. Despite all this, I heard the three Indonesians are well.” 

Maharudin Lunani, 48, his son Muhammad Farhan, 27, and his nephew Samiun Maneu, 27, were kidnapped by seven armed men while catching prawns.

A Daily Express exclusive on Oct 18 reported that the three hostages were held by Salip Mura’s group in Kabbon Maas village, Indanan municipality, in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, citing information from an Indonesian terrorism researcher. 

The researcher with Jakarta-based think tank Galatea, Ulta Levenia Nababan, said in that report that Salip’s group had initially consisted of only 10-20 persons but with the arrival of the kidnapped Indonesian fishermen, they increased their manpower to 50-60 fully armed members. 

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chief Dato’ Hazani Ghazali has confirmed that the hostages changed hands but does not know who currently holds them. 

“Yes, they have changed hands but we still don’t have the information on who currently has them,” he told Daily Express on Monday.

When asked to confirm the hostages’ current location, Hazani said: “Yes, they’re still in Indanan and the Philippine military has taken some action in their operations against the group that is holding them.” 

On Monday, Ulta, the Indonesian researcher, told Daily Express the hostages are still being held in Kabbon Maas village. 

“The kidnappers are depressed by the military operation. Only ransom will save the hostages,” she said. “Sailp Mura is a person willing to negotiate, rather than the other groups. If the Indonesians are transferred to other groups, it would be difficult. 

“The kidnappers contacted some potential Filipino negotiators, but I think no one from the government is willing to solve this [negotiate with the kidnappers]. No ransom has been paid or negotiated. No news from the company [fishermen’s employer] as well. 

“These negotiators, a third party, are making this a business because it’s all about money. So people are competing to be this third party. So I think the government wouldn’t take part,” she said, adding the Philippine military has taken control of the Indanan area. 

Both Salip Mura and Apo Mike are among 18 Filipinos on Esscom’s latest wanted list issued in January this year for transborder crimes. 

Daily Express has contacted the Philippine military for comments.



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