Philippines` seriousness in rescuing nine Indonesian hostages evident: Ryacudu

"The Abu Sayyaf group has a total of 300 members. If I count from the reports of casualties, 115 to 120 militants had died. The reduction is significant enough," Ryacudu noted.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Philippines remains committed to rescuing nine Indonesian hostages being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Southern part of the country, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu stated on Tuesday.

Manilas seriousness was apparent by the Philippines recent military operations against the Abu Sayyaf groups positions, which led to the deaths of at least 115 militants, Ryacudu informed newsmen after leading a gathering of a state defense program at the National Monument Square here.

"The Abu Sayyaf group has a total of 300 members. If I count from the reports of casualties, 115 to 120 militants had died. The reduction is significant enough," he noted.

After crushing the Abu Sayyaf strongholds in Basilan Island near Mindanao, the Philippine military is working with the members of the Moro National Liberation Front and would continue their attacks on the militants headquarters in Jolo Island, he remarked.

The military operations have proven the Philippine governments seriousness in handling threats to the countrys sovereignty and also in freeing the Indonesian hostages.

The military operations had also forced the militants to stay on high alert due to which they failed to maintain a close watch on all the hostages. In this situation, two Indonesian sailors managed to escape from their abductors, Ryacudu noted.

The two escapees have been identified as 22-year-old Ismail and 28-year-old Muhammad Sofyan. They are the crew members of tugboat Charles that the armed militants had hijacked in the waters of Sulu Island in the southern part of Philippines on June 20, 2016.

Ryacudu said he planned to ask Ismail and Sofyan to obtain all possible information that is necessary for Indonesia to launch a rescue operation to free the nine other Indonesian hostages.(*)

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