Indonesia: No more locals held hostage by Abu Sayyaf

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JAKARTA, Indonesia

The Indonesian government on Monday handed over four Indonesian citizens, taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group since last year, to their families.

“I would like to express my appreciation to all parties who have helped the liberation and repatriation process, especially from the military and State Intelligence Agency,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a virtual broadcast on Monday.

She also expressed gratitude to the Philippine government that helped Indonesia in releasing hostages.

The four Indonesian citizens were held hostage in the Philippines for about one year and three months. They are Arizal Kasta Miran, Arsad Bin Dahlan, Andi Riswanto, and Mohammad Khairudin.

“Congratulations on finally reuniting with your family,” said Marsudi.

“Since 2016, 44 Indonesian citizens were recorded as victims of the Abu Sayyaf hostage-taking,” she continued.

Marsudi assured that currently there are no more Indonesian citizens being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group.

The government will strengthen the prevention so that no more Indonesian ship workers will become victims of hostage-taking.

“We must strengthen the aspect of prevention, increase security in Sabah waters and maintain the cooperation between Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine authorities to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future,” the top diplomat added.

The four hostages were among five Indonesians kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group on Jan. 17, 2020 off the coast of Tambisan in Malaysia. One of them died while trying to escape.

Arizal, Arsad, and Andi were initially rescued by Philippine security forces on March 18 this year in South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, while Khairuldin was rescued three days later on the Kalupag Island.

They were separated in the middle of the sea when the ship used by the Abu Sayyaf Group to carry hostages overturned due to sea waves while avoiding the pursuit of joint operations by Philippine officials.

* Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita with Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta

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