RI govt already sent mlitary troops to Somalia

RI govt already sent mlitary troops to Somalia

"A day after it was discussed and then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered prioritizing the safety of the crew."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has already sent military troops to Somalia as part of efforts to save 20 crew held hostage by pirates there, chief security minister Djoko Suyanto said.

The coordinating minister for political, security and legal affairs said two frigates with 401 members of the Marine Corps and the Army`s Special Force (Kopassus) on board had been dispatched to waters off the east coast of Africa.

"Many people have said the government is not taking any action, the government is weak and so on while the fact is that from the beginning it had already considered military action as an option," he said.

He said on March 17 the government received information that a ship belonging to PT Samudera Indonesia had been hijacked by pirates in Somalia.

"A day after it was discussed and then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered prioritizing the safety of the crew. Meetings were held again on March 20 and 22 producing two options namely the government supporting the ship owner to negotiate with the pirates and preparing a special force to raid and take over the Sinar Kudus ship," he said.

Djoko said for the sake of the safety of the crew the government decided to prioritize negotiations and kept the raid option.

On March 23 the ship was sent there to be ready for a combat while some Kopassus members were flown to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The ship then called at Colombo to pick up the troops and logistics. On March 30 it set out from Colombo.

Defense forces commander Admiral Agus Suhartono said "because Somalia is far away the two frigates were late to stop Sinar Kudus.

"On April 2 Sinar Kudus dropped anchor and moved ashore. We wished to be able to meet in the sea but we reached the position where the ship dropped the anchor only by April 5," he said.

He said "the TNI (defense forces) has sent a helicopter to check the situation and conditions in the field and saw Sinar Kudus close to the shore in the middle of dozens of hijacked ships."

Based on the situation he said the government prioritized negotiations and stationed the two frigates near Somalia.

The two frigates are kept there to be used later to escort the Sinar Kudus home if the negotiation is successful, he added.
(T.R018/H-YH/HAJM)

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