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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Police, Indon military ready to assist in rescue of Abu Sayyaf hostages

Joint police personnel have been readied in Nunukan regency, North Kalimantan, to assist in an operation to rescue 10 Indonesian sailors held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines.

National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the special troops, comprising personnel from the detective unit, intelligence unit, Brigade Mobile (Brimob) and Densus 88 antiterror squad, were now on standby to be deployed at any time.

"We are ready to join the Indonesian Military [TNI], which has also prepared troops in North Kalimantan," Badrodin said during a hearing with House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs on Wednesday.

Army Strategic Reserve commander (Pangkostrad) Let. Gen Edy Rahmayadi said that the TNI was on standby in the waters bordering the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, principally in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, has reported.

The police have also coordinated with the owner of the kidnapped vessel, PT United Tractors, to establish a crisis center in North Jakarta, where the police's cyber crime unit is on standby, Badrodin said.

Meanwhile in external measures, Badrodin said, the National Police is intensively cooperating with the Philippine police to track the movement of Abu Sayyaf, a southern Philippines-based militant group who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).

On March 29, two Indonesian-flagged vessels, the Brahma 12 tugboat and Anand 12 barge, were hijacked in Philippine waters near Borneo by Abu Sayyaf, and the two crews, numbering 10 men in total, taken hostage.

While the two vessels have been rescued by the Philippine and Malaysian authorities, Abu Sayyaf is demanding a ransom of US$ 1.14 million in return for the release of the hostages.

Ahead of attempts to rescue the 10, the police are coordinating with the Foreign Ministry, Badrodin added.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has previously said that the Philippine and Indonesia governments are continuing communication and coordination, adding that the safety of 10 Indonesian sailors was the priority.

However, Badrodin noted that the Philippine constitution did not permit the operation of foreign troops in the country's territory.

"There needs to be the approval of the Philippine parliament before we, as a foreign authority, can take action."

By Marguerite Afra Sapiie

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