Indonesian citizen released from hostage in South Philippines

Indonesian citizen released from hostage in South Philippines

The crew of the ship held hostage by armed groups in the southern Philippines, Usman Yunus (center) with his wife and daughter and relatives arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakara, Thursday (12/13/2018). (ANTARA PHOTO/Suwandy)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - An Indonesian citizen who was kidnapped in Sabah waters, Malaysia, and later held hostage in the Sulu Islands, Southern Philippines, was successfully released and handed over to the family, an official stated.

The ill-fated citizen Usman Yunus (35) was handed over by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs AM Fachir to the former`s family brought in from Polewali Mandar, West Sulawesi.

Usman, in his homecoming to the country, was accompanied directly by the Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines, Sonny Sarundajang.

"The government uses all of its assets to free the hostages. But the situation in the southern Philippines, due to martial law, makes efforts should be done very carefully to ensure the safety of the hostages," AM Fachir said in a written statement, here on Thursday.

Usman was released on December 7, 2018. Following his release, Usman underwent a medical examination at the Armed Forces Hospital in Jolo, Sulu, Southern Philippines.

According to the statement, Usman was then taken to Manila to manage the immigration administration for his returning home.

"Thank you, (Mr) President and Foreign Minister, I am almost desperate. Alhamdulillah (Thank God, my husband is free," said Usman`s wife, Julianti, to Vice Minister Fachir while meeting with Usman.

Usman was kidnapped along with another Indonesian citizen, Samsul Saguni (40), by armed groups in waters near Pulau Gaya, Samporna, Sabah (Malaysia) on September 11, 2018. Usman was held hostage for two months and 26 days.

"On the direction of the Foreign Minister, I communicated directly with the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to seek liberation. Therefore, all parties in the Philippines support the efforts that we have made", said Ambassador Sonny Sarundajang.

From 2016 to November 2018, 34 Indonesian citizens were taken hostage in the southern Philippines. A total of 33 of them have been released.

The Indonesian government will also continue to seek the release of Indonesian citizens who are still held hostage.

At the same time, the Indonesian Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu and Indonesian Consulate General Tawau continued to urge Indonesian citizens who work as fishermen in the Sabah region not to go to the sea until there is a guarantee of security from Malaysian authorities.

Reporting by Yashinta Difa Pramudyani
Editing by Bustanuddin, Rahmad Nasution