Another Indonesian flees Abu Sayyaf

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2016 11:52 PM

Members of the Philippine National Police escort Indonesian hostage Mohammad Safyan after he escaped from Abu Sayyaf captors, in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday. Reuters

Philippine troops on Wednesday found another Indonesian who was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu province.

The victim, identified only as Ismail, was found by soldiers in Brgy. Bual, Luuk, Sulu.

Ismail said that he is a kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf and is the chief officer of a tug boat seized by the terrorist group, according to Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command.

Ismail will be brought to Jolo for medical check up before his turn-over to proper authorities, Tan said.

Ismail's fellow tugboat crewman, Mohammad Safyan, earlier escaped from his captors by swimming out to sea after the militants threatened to cut his head off, according to Tan.

Members of the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf captured the eight Indonesian seamen from their boat as it was passing through waters off southern Philippine islands on June 23.

Residents of Jolo island spotted Safyan floating off the shore after he escaped under cover of darkness, Tan said.

"We were told he managed to escape by running and swimming to the sea," Tan said, adding that Safyan had said the militants were about to execute him when he escaped.

"We have no information on the other captives but troops in the area were ordered to use all means to locate and rescue the hostages."

Abu Sayyaf rebels operating in Muslim areas of the largely Christian Philippines have developed a reputation as ruthless kidnappers.

They have increasingly been turning their attention to vessels passing through busy shipping lanes in the Sulu Sea as security along coasts has been tightened.

The bandit group recently beheaded two Canadians they kidnapped from a beach resort after a ransom deadline passed.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered the army to destroy the militants saying if not, the Philippines risked being "contaminated" by Islamic State.

Indonesian authorities have said piracy in the area, a major sea lane for the world's top thermal coal exporter, could reach levels previously seen in Somalia.

Analysts say $40 billion worth of cargo passes through the waters a year, including supertankers from the Indian Ocean that cannot use the crowded Malacca Strait.

The rise of hijackings at sea has prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia to try to coordinate maritime patrols.

Tan said the Abu Sayyaf were holding 15 foreign hostages, including a Norwegian, a Dutch, five Malaysians and eight Indonesians. Eight Filipinos were also held in the group's jungle stronghold. - with a report from Reuters