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JAKARTA, Indonesia (2nd UPDATE) – Indonesians kidnapped by Philippine rebel group Abu Sayyaf were released on Sunday, May 1 at about 1pm local time.
The 10 Indonesian crew, after having been released early on by their captors in Indanan, Sulu, were transported by two unidentified persons to the residence of Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II.
Sources said the ransom was paid for their release on Friday, April 29. The release comes one month since the kidnapping.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said the Indonesians are “in good condition” and said they have been repatriated and are “estimated to arrive in Jakarta at midnight.”
“I thank all those who helped in the process of liberation both formally and informally,” he said, adding they hope for for the same results for 4 other Indonesians who were kidnapped separately and still in custody of the Abu Sayyaf.
He also said “there is a need to pay attention to border security and water areas,” which is why Jakarta will host a meeting of foreign ministers and military commanders from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on Thursday.
On April 20, Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the company the sailors worked for, Patria Maritime Lines, had agreed to pay $1 million or Rp 14.3 billion worth of ransom for their release.
The 10 Indonesian sailors were kidnapped in waters of the conflict-wracked southern Philippines by Islamic militants who demanded a ransom for their release a month ago on Tuesday, March 29.
The crew was travelling on a tugboat pulling a barge from Borneo island to the Philippines when they were hijacked, Indonesian and Philippine officials said. (READ: Here’s what Indonesia plans to do after kidnappings)
Hijackers on a wooden motor boat are thought to have abducted the sailors. The vessels’ owners received a ransom call from someone claiming to be from the Abu Sayyaf militant group the same day.
The timeline of events of their release is as follows:
4:45 pm: The hostages arrived in Zamboanga City from Sulu onboard two Philippine Air Force Huey helicopters
6:30 pm: Team Anti-Kidnapping Group of the Philippine police conducted debriefing of the Indonesians
6:45 pm: The 10 Indonesians were turned over by Philippine officials to Mr. Eddie Mulyah, and Indonesian Embassy Official and were subsequently turned over to Mr. Victor Laiskodat, member of Indonesian Parliament representing the President of Indonesia
7:20 pm: The Indonesians, together with Mr. Laiskodat, boarded Victory News private plane and left Zamboanga for Indonesia
11:30 pm: The Indonesians arrived safely in Jakarta
The release comes days after the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Canadian hostage, when negotiations for ransom fell through.
In the past, Abu Sayyaf, whose leader has pledged allegiance to ISIS, has mainly targeted tourists as they can demand high ransoms for foreigners. (READ: Jokowi on saving Indonesians: It’s difficult)
Many Western and other embassies routinely issue warnings against travelling to most of the Philippines’ Muslim-populated southern regions, which lie just northeast of Sabah, because of the risk of being abducted by the group.
Currently, 4 other Indonesians remain with the rebel group. They were kidnapped in a separate incident on Saturday, April 16. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com