Manila: An Islamist militant group has released two Indonesian captives to local authorities in the southern Philippines, the military said.
Representatives of the Abu Sayyaf Group sent the two Indonesian fishermen — identified as La Utu Bin La Raali and La Hadi La Edi — to the house of former Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan Sr. in Asturias village, Jolo, late on Friday night, the military said in a report.
Officials of the Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) fetched the two Indonesian nationals from the former governor’s residence, and turned them over to the regional police office, the report said .
The Abu Sayyaf Group abducted the two Indonesian nationals from two different fishing boats off Kertam, Sabah, Malaysia on November 4, 2016, the report said.
After their release, they were turned over to the Philippine National Police, underwent medical examination and custodial debriefing, said Senior Supt. Mario Buyuccan, Sulu’s provincial police director.
The Indonesian consulate general in Davao, southern Philippines and the Indonesian embassy in Manila flew to Sulu, facilitated the transfer of the two Indonesians to nearby Zamboanga City by helicopter, where they got their exit clearances, prior to their return to their hometown in Wakatobi, southeast Sulawesi, Manila’s foreign affairs department said.
The wives of the released fishermen and other fishermen in Sandakan port, Sabah were informed about the arrival of the released Indonesians, the foreign affairs office said.
Armed robberies, kidnappings and other forms of pirate attacks by the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters shared by the Philippines and Malaysia doubled from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017, the International Maritime Bureau said.
The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed solely for the attacks. The Abu Sayyaf Group has pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2015.
It was one of the major local terror groups that attacked Marawi City from May to October 2017, in an effort to establish an Islamist caliphate in the whole of Mindanao and other parts of Southeast Asian countries with militant Islamists.
Reports said that foreign militants from Malaysia and Indonesia also participated in attacking Marawi City.
The urban warfare killed more than a thousand people, majority of them were militants, and displaced almost half a million residents.
In June 2017, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines held joint maritime patrols to fight pirate attacks and transnational crimes in the Sulu Sea.