Troops track down gunmen who abduct 4 Indonesians

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Updated) – The Armed Force of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has alerted the troops in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu to monitor possible landing of a gunmen-laden speed boat bringing four Indonesian hostages.

This as one of the gunshot victim and five other crewmembers who managed to escape Friday night’s kidnapping by alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits are now in Indonesia, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said.

Major Filemon Tan, Jr., Westmincom spokesperson, said the incident took place around 6:30 p.m. Friday in the seawaters near Pondo Sibugal, Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi.

The report said the wounded Indonesian is in a stable condition.

Tan said the victims’ identities were not immediately available except that they are among the 10 Indonesian crew of TB (Tugboat) Henry.

He said the victims were attacked by at least seven gunmen aboard a gray and blue color speedboat while they were passing Pondo Sibugal, Sitangkai.

The gunmen seized the four Indonesians and sped off to unknown direction leaving behind the remaining six, including the one wounded crew.

He said troops were sent to track down the whereabouts of the gunmen as well as the victims.

However, Tan said they have yet to ascertain the identities of the gunmen as they could be pirates who are just using the names of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“There is no proof that they are the ones who did that (abduction),” Tan added.

The kidnapping incident comes 20 days after Abu Sayyaf bandits seized a 10-member crew of an Indonesian tugboat and barge near the borders of the Philippines and Malaysia.

The tugboat, Brahma 12, was sailing to Manila from Jakarta when intercepted by the Abu Sayyaf bandits on March 26.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said the government will take steps to address the frequent occurrence of piracy in the region and invite neighboring countries to improve security.(Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)

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