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Monday, June 27, 2016

Military: Abducted Indonesian seafarers reportedly spotted in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Civilians in Sulu have reported sightings of the seven Indonesian sailors believed abducted by the Abu Sayyaf, which could confirm the terror group's involvement in the kidnapping, a military official said Monday.

Military intelligence is filtering reports from informants who say they might have seen the abductees as they were brought to Sulu, Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.

“Karamihan ng intelligence units nagsasabi na nasa Sulu. ‘Yon yong mga declaration nila,” Tan also said.

The newest captives were seized last Monday from a tugboat sailing through the Sulu Sea while headed to Indonesia.

The victims were identified as Captain Feri Arifin, Chief Engineer Muhammad Mahbrur Dahri and Assistant Engineer Edy Suryono, Chief Officer Ismail and crew members Robin Peter, Muhammad Nasir and Muhammad Sofyan.

The security forces said the Muktadil Brothers -- Nickson Muktadil, Brown Muktadil and Badung Muktadil -- a certain Dadis and other unidentified accomplices were responsible for the abduction.

The Muktadil Brothers, who have linked up with the Abu Sayyaf group, are a kidnap-for-ransom group operating in the area of Tawi-Tawi province.

Tan said the Muktadil brothers have passed on their victims to the Abu Sayyaf group.

However, Tan said the military has yet to determine which of the Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders are now holding the hostages.

The military official assured the public that once the sub-group leader holding the captive Indonesians is identified, they will have a better idea of where in Sulu to look.

The Abu Sayyaf group has already demanded 20 million ringgits (around P70,600) in exchange for the freedom of the captive Indonesians.

Sources said back-channel negotiations for the safe release of the victims have been initiated after the Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines reportedly flew in over the weekend.

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