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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Paying ransoms encourages more Abu Sayyaf kidnappings, says Indon VP

Indonesia's vice president has underlined the danger of paying ransoms to kidnappers, telling journalists Tuesday that those who enter such negotiations put others in jeopardy

"If it [piracy] is tolerated, it will cause the next piracy," Jusuf Kalla was quoted as saying by

"But for the sake of the salvation of their employees, businessmen are negotiating. As a result of this [hostage situations are reoccurring]."

On Sunday, Malaysian police revealed that five gunmen in “military appearance” had seized three Indonesians from a Malaysian-registered fishing trawler, but released four other crew.

The kidnapping was the fourth this year targeting Indonesians on the Sulu and Celebes seas, where militants based in the southern Philippines, including the Daesh-affiliated Abu Sayyaf, operate.

In the two earlier incidents, the Indonesian crew was later released, with Indonesia insisting that the government had not paid ransom.

"I want to emphasize that the government never talks gives money. But for businessmen it is possible," Kalla said.

Also Tuesday, Coordinating Minister for Political Legal and Security Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said Indonesia was investigating why hostage-takers only targeted Indonesian citizens when there were other citizens on the trawlers.

The Indonesian trio taken July 10 was seized on production of their passports, while the four others -- three of them from the Philippines -- were released.

Kidnap-for-ransom gangs operating in the Sulu and Celebes seas are known to hand over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.

Earlier this year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages after ransoms failed to be paid. It has threatened to decapitate a Norwegian captured with them in September if a P300-million ($6 million) ransom demand is not met.

By Ainur Rohmah

Kidnappers demand ransom

TAWAU: One of the three Indonesians who were kidnapped by five armed men in Lahad Datu waters on Saturday has contacted his employer to inform of the group’s ransom demand.

Indonesia’s consul in Tawau, Abdul Fatah Zainal said the victim contacted his employer who is based in Lahad Datu less than 24 hours after the incident.

“We have yet to ascertain whether the call was made from his (victim’s) handphone or that of others but we know for sure the call originated from the Philippines,” he told reporters here Tuesday.

Abdul Fatah said the Indonesian government would work closely with the Malaysian authorities to free the three victims, identified as Lorence Koten, 34, Teo Dorus Kopong, 42, and Emanuel, 46.

“The three of them have been in Sabah for less than a year and work as fishermen in Lahad Datu,” he said.

They were kidnapped while fishing in Lahad Datu waters at 11.40pm. However, four of their fellow crewmen on their trawler were freed by the kidnappers.

“The victims were among seven crew members on board, comprising four Indonesians and three Bajau Laut, who were trawling at the area when they were approached by a boat about 11.40pm. The three Bajau Laut did not possess passports while the three abducted Indonesians had their own passports respectively.

“When the gunmen approached the fishing trawler, the three abducted Indonesians had admitted to having passports and showed the documents while the other Indonesian just kept silent. In view of this situation, we believe the gunmen were interested in passport holders and those who hold passports are potential kidnap victims. We have no idea about their (gunmen) motives.

“The incident occurred during working hours. Their employer is believed to have applied for curfew permit for it,” the consul pointed out.

According to Abdul Fatah, the Consulate of Indonesia views the situation in the waters of Malaysia-Indonesia-Philippines as threatened and unstable.

He reminded all Indonesians who are staying or working in Sabah, as well as those in Indonesia to be aware of the security risks and comply with the safety rules of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).

Abdul Fatah said every Indonesian should continue to enhance their environment awareness against the actions of armed civilian groups/terrorists.

Besides avoiding trips to the Southern Philippines, particularly Tawi-Tawi, Zulu and Jolo, it was also advisble to discontinue activities such as fishing, business or travelling in the affected areas for the time being.

After the kidnap incident, the consulate also met with the employer of the fishing trawler.

Abdul Fatah hopes the Royal Malaysian Police could investigate and solve this case as soon as possible so that the gunmen could be arrested while the three Indonesians could be freed safely.

The consulate would also continue to give their cooperation to Malaysia to solve this problem as several Indonesians have become victims and been sacrificed in such terrorist threat incidents.

For the long-term solution, the consulate will often carry out evaluation and go to the ground to meet with Indonesians who are working in the fishery and plantation sectors, as well as their employers, to remind them about the security measures and the safety rules set by the Malaysian government.

Indonesians facing problems may contact the consulate at 089-772 052 or 089-752 969.

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