Indonesian held hostage in Philippines killed in gunfight: govt

Indonesian held hostage in Philippines killed in gunfight: govt

Heri Ardiansyah (middle), who was abducted by the notorious Abu Sayyaf terror group but managed to escape, is hugged by relatives during an event at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry in 2019.  (ANTARA FOTO/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - An Indonesian taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terror group earlier this year has been killed in a gunfight between the armed group and the Philippine army, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Wednesday.

The gunfight took place in the municipality of Patikul, Sulu province, she informed during an online briefing in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“On behalf of the Indonesian government, I extend my deepest condolences to the mourning families over the passing of our citizen,” Marsudi said.

The coffin of the Indonesian national, identified as La Baa (32), has been flown on a Philippine military aircraft from Sulu province to Zamboanga city in the Philippines, she informed.

The Indonesian government is coordinating with the Philippine authorities regarding the condition of four other Indonesians currently being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group.

The Philippine defence force has pledged to find and save the remaining four hostages, the minister said.

The Abu Sayyaf group is reported to have abducted eight Indonesians working on board a fishing vessel on January 16, 2020 in Tambisan waters off Tungku Lahad Dato in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Three of the eight hostages, identified as Abdul Latif (37), Daeng Akbal (20), and Pian bin Janiru (36), were freed along with the wooden fishing boat.

Meanwhile, five others, including La Baa, were held captive by the South Philippines-based terrorist group. The remaining four hostages have been identified as Arsyad bin Dahlan (42), Arizal Kastamiran (29), Riswanto bin Hayono (27), and Edi bin Lawalopo (53).

The Indonesian nationals were abducted not far from the spot where three Indonesians had earlier been kidnapped on September 23, 2019, according to the Tambisan police.

The Abu Sayyaf group has repeatedly taken Indonesian hostages over the past four years. Between 2016 and November, 2018 alone, 34 Indonesian citizens were taken hostage in the southern Philippines.

The Indonesian government has been trying to seek the release of the Indonesian citizens.

In March this year, Indonesia's top security minister Mahfud MD had quoted a media report stating that the Abu Sayyaf group had demanded 30 million Philippine peso (Rp8.4 billion) as ransom for the release of the five Indonesians.

Demands for ransom have been repeatedly made by members of the Abu Sayyaf group whenever they have held foreign hostages, though the requested amounts are always different, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs informed.

In view of the repeated abductions of Indonesians in the Malaysian waters, the Indonesian Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu and the Indonesian Consulate General in Tawau have been continuing to urge Indonesian fishermen in the Sabah region to refrain from venturing into the sea until their security can be guaranteed by Malaysian authorities. (INE)

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