Three Indonesian fishermen taken by Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf Islamist group

JAKARTA, July 11 (UPI) — Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said three fishermen were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, the Philippine militant Islamist organization that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

The Indonesian fishermen were abducted in Malaysian waters off the coast of the town of Lahad Datu on Saturday and taken to Philippine territory. It is the fourth kidnapping Abu Sayyaf is accused of carrying out this year.

A fishing trawler carrying a crew of seven was attacked by five gunmen on a speedboat. Three fishermen were taken while the rest were released unharmed.

“The Malaysian police in Lahad Datu have confirmed the incident, and also confirmed that the three crewmen that were kidnapped are Indonesian citizens with legal work permits in Malaysia,” Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said in a press conference. “Serious efforts have to be made immediately by the Philippine and Malaysian governments, and the Indonesian government is ready to cooperate to secure the release of the hostages.”

The kidnapped men were identified as Lorens Koten, 34, Teo Dores Kopong, 40, and Emanuel, 46. The men were taken to the Philippine island of Tawi Tawi.

“The abductors are Abu Sayyaf group. The abducted fishermen were brought to the Philippines,” Indonesian military Com. Gatot Nurmantyo said Monday.

Retno said Indonesian President Joko Widodo called recently inducted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday to urge the new leader to make efforts against the kidnappings of Indonesian citizens.

On June 20, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped seven Indonesian sailors off the coast of the Philippines. The militant group headquartered in the Philippines is deemed a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the United States. Abu Sayyaf, which was previously allied to al-Qaida, pledged loyalty to the Islamic State in 2014.

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