JAKARTA, Oct. 3 (UPI) — Abu Sayyaf, a Philippines-based militant group allied to the Islamic State, has released three Indonesian sailors, Indonesia’s foreign minister said.
There are two remaining sailors in captivity, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a press conference on Sunday. The freed sailors were released at 11:35 p.m. on Saturday.
“A special team picked them up. The three are at the Sulu Joint Task Force West Mincom, where they are undergoing health checkups,” Retno said in Jakarta, adding that the men will be taken to Zamboanga, Philippines, to be handed over to Indonesian authorities.
The Indonesian sailors were taken hostage June 21 by the Abu Sayyaf militant group. The freed men were identified as Ferry Arifin, M. Mahbur Dahlan and Edi Suryono. The captive men are identified as Robin Piter and M. Nasir.
Retno said the Indonesian government has increased efforts to secure the release of the remaining sailors.
Last week, Philippine police confiscated $125,000 worth of high-powered firearms headed to Abu Sayyaf. The cache of weapons and ammunition was traced to a government arsenal and the serial numbers of the weapons are being researched under the assumption they are of the same origin.