TEMPO English – Ten Indonesian sailors abducted by Abu Sayyaf fighters have been freed in the southern Philippines after five weeks in captivity, local police said.
Unknown men dropped off the 10 tugboat crewmen at the home of provincial governor Abdusakur Tan Jnr on the remote island of Jolo on Sunday, Jolo Police Chief Junpikar Sitin told the AFP news agency. “The report [of their release] is confirmed. They were there. I saw them,” Sitin said.
The condition of the former captives was not immediately known, though Sitin said the group ate lunch at the governor’s home.They were abducted on March 26 by fighters described by Philippine authorities as members of the Abu Sayyaf, an armed group based in Jolo and nearby Basilan island which is accused of kidnappings and deadly bombings.
Jolo’s mayor, Hussin Amin, welcomed the release of the Indonesians, but said he was unaware whether a ransom had been paid. “If this big release came in exchange for money, those who paid are supporting the Abu Sayyaf,” he said. “This money will be used to buy more firearms and will be utilized as mobilization funds by these criminals.”
Abu Sayyaf does not normally free hostages unless a ransom is paid, which is the group’s main source of funding.