Suspected Abu Sayyaf members kidnap ship crew

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) reportedly abducted 7 crew members of a cargo ship headed to Indonesia on Tuesday, June 22.

The cargo vessel was traversing Indonesian waters from the Philippines when the armed men, who were on motorized boat, fired at the vessel and seized 7 of the 13 crew members, said to be a mix of Indonesian and Malaysian citizens, a source told Rappler.

It was not known whether the kidnappers took both Indonesian and Malaysian hostages, as of posting.

With their victims, the kidnappers reportedly fled towards the direction of Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines.

The same source said the captain of the vessel was able to contact his wife to inform her they were kidnapped and that a ransom payment demand was set at P20 million.

The incident is the latest in a string of abductions in seas between Indonesia and the Philippines.  On May 1, the ASG released its captive Indonesian sailors after the crew members' company reportedly paid a P50-million ransom.

The latest kidnapping incident comes as Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte warned that the group will soon have to face the consequences of their actions.

Last week, outgoing Philippine President Benigno Aquino III personally went to Sulu after the ASG beheaded a second Canadian hostage when a ransom payment demand was not met. He said that Philippine authorities have refined their operations in the hope of rescuing the remaining hostages.

On Tuesday, June 21, 3 ASG members were killed in a military encounter in Sulu, which also left 16 soldiers wounded.

The Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Philippine government are strictly observing a no-ransom policy, to keep the Abu Sayyaf from funding more criminal and terror activities. – Editha Z. Caduaya/Rappler.com