Abu Sayyaf Snatches Four More Indonesian Sailors

BenarNews Staff
2016.04.15
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160415-ID-abu-sayyaf-620.jpg Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, center, visits a soldier who was injured in a clash with Abu Sayyaf, April 10, 2016.
AFP

Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET on 2016-04-16

A Philippine militant group linked to the Islamic State on Friday threatened to behead foreign hostages in 10 days if their ransom demands are not met, and kidnapped four more Indonesian sailors at gunpoint, according to media reports.

The new ransom demands for two Canadian men, a Norwegian man and a Filipino woman held by the group since September 2015 occurred hours before Abu Sayyaf members apparently kidnapped four members of a 10-member Indonesian tugboat crew late Friday.

Six sailors were able to escape and sail to Sabah, Malaysia after the four were snatched in nearby international waters, The Star of Malaysia reported, citing police in the eastern state.

It was the third attack in a month on tugboats plying the waters near the Philippines’ Tawi Tawi islands, off the coast of Sabah, according to The Star. Abu Sayyaf continues to hold four sailors from Malaysia and a 10-member crew of another Indonesian tugboat captured late last month.

Deadline

The captives who face a new ransom deadline are believed to be held on Jolo island in the southern Philippines, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, according to published reports.

Abu Sayyaf had already issued similar ransom demands for these prisoners, but Friday’s was the first to carry a deadline.

In the most recent Youtube video, the men asked their families and governments to pay ransoms of 300 million Philippine pesos (U.S. $6.5 million) each as militants held machetes to their necks, SITE Intelligence Group reported. The Filipina did not speak. A masked militant said one of the four would be beheaded if ransom was not paid by 3 p.m. on April 25.

‘Barbaric’

Abu Sayyaf executed Malaysian national Bernard Then, 39, in November 2015. Then had been abducted from a seaside restaurant in Malaysia’s Sabah state with a woman and taken by boat to Jolo where he was held captive. The woman was released, reportedly after a ransom was paid.

Abu Sayyaf kidnapped an Indonesian tugboat crew in late March. The ship’s owner was contacted by the group claiming it was holding them for ransom.

Days later, gunmen abducted four Malaysians from a ship off eastern Sabah, near the southern Philippines. The hijacking of a Malaysian registered timber-hauling barge, the M.V. MASFIVE 6, occurred when four Malaysians crew members were abducted by eight gunmen in waters off Pulau Ligitan, near Semporna on Sabah’s east coast.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the kidnapping as “senseless and barbaric.”

On April 9, the Philippines lost 18 soldiers during a gunfight with Abu Sayyaf on Basilan island.

“The April 9 loss manifests the difficulty and gravity of the fight against lawlessness and terrorism. At the same time, it strengthens our resolve to continue with our fight for peace … we must quell the spread of extremist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf that threaten the lives and security of our brothers and sisters in Muslim Mindanao and the country as a whole,” Philippine peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said on April 12.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Abu Sayyaf kidnapped two Indonesian tugboat crews in late March.

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