No Indonesian citizen taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf group: VP

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Thursday he did not believe any Indonesian citizens were being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippine waters.

"There is no such hostage taking," the vice president stated while responding to a question from the media after a get together to break the fast during in ongoing month of Ramadhan (Iftar) with thousands of orphans in the Jakarta Convention Center.

Jusuf Kalla, however, clarified that he hasnt yet received further report from the Indonesian embassy in Manila, the Philippines, regarding the hostage taking issue.

In the meantime, the family members of the crew of Tugboat "Charles," belonging to PT Rusianto Bersaudara firm, said they were sure their kin have been taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group.

"We believe, the seven crew members of the tugboat, including my husband, are still being held hostage, and we have no definite information about their condition or fate," Dian Megawati Ahmad, wife of one of the crew members, said when contacted from Samarinda, East Kalimantan on Wednesday.

Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung had assured at the presidential office here on Wednesday that the Indonesian government will check the veracity of reports about citizens being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippine waters.

"The government was trying to verify if the information was true. We have had such experiences twice in the past and have a network in place now to deal with it," Pramono disclosed.

He affirmed that the government would continue coordinating with the Philippine government and military officials to collect complete information.

"Certainly, the government wants complete information before taking any action," he stressed.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan expressed his inability to make any statement without first checking the reports.

"Let me check these reports first," he pleaded.(*)