World Bulletin / News Desk
The Philippines’ military confirmed Sunday that seven Indonesians abducted from a tugboat earlier this week are being held by a ISIL-affiliated militant group in the troubled southern island province of Sulu.
A Western Mindanao Command spokesman said in a statement that the sailors had been turned over by the “Muktadil brothers”, who are part of a kidnap-for-ransom gang based in the Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi island, to an Abu Sayyaf group based in Sulu.
"The armed men on board two motorized boats intercepted the Indonesians’ tugboat while en route to Indonesia in the Sulu Sea," Maj. Filemon Tan Jr. said. "Seven of the 13 crewmen on board the Indonesia tugboat were taken by the bandits."
On Friday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced that seven of the 13 crewmembers on the tugboat, which had been towing a barge carrying coal, were kidnapped by Filipino gunmen earlier this week in the latest hijacking in the region’s seas.
Tan confirmed earlier reports that the boat's captain, who was among those abducted, had called his wife in Indonesia to relay their kidnappers’ demands for payment of a 20 million Malaysian ringgit ($4.8 million) ransom.
Between April and June, at least 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors were abducted in waters between the archipelagoes in a series of kidnappings in which the Abu Sayyaf had a role.
On Monday, defense officials of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to conduct trilateral maritime and air patrols in the three countries’ maritime areas of common concern, particularly in the Sulu Sea, to beef up regional security and thwart criminal activities at sea.
The Sulu Sea is a popular route for cargo and passenger ships, with some vessels falling prey to pirates and kidnappers, while others use the route for smuggling.
Kidnap-for-ransom gangs also frequently operate in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.
They are known to hand over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.
The kidnappers use isolated sea-lanes and coastal areas to grab their victims, who are then held captive in isolated villages in the Mindanao island region.
Last week, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a second Canadian hostage after a deadline set by the group for the delivery of a 600 million peso ($13 million) ransom was missed.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group - armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles - has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
Elor Azaria, who killed an injured and unarmed Palestinian in 2016, is now set for release on May 10
The French Embassy in Tel Aviv says it was taking the case 'very seriously'
The ISIL terrorist was responsible for taking by force houses of security members in Mosul
Iraq suffers from acute financial crisis due to dropped oil prices and anti-terrorism expenses
Thousands of supporters poured into the streets of the capital island Male on Friday night and continued their protest rally till early Saturday, the joint opposition said in a statement issued in Colombo.
Also suspended were the accounts of its parent organization, Strategic Communication Laboratories, as well as those of University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan and Christopher Wylie, who runs Eunoia Technologies.
Andrew McCabe was accused of misleading investigators on Clinton Foundation corruption case
Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told reporters after talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday that the U.S. also wants to see a resumption of talks to reunify the ethnically divided island nation.
"There were seven people aboard, they are all believed to be dead," the official said, adding they were US service members.
A doctor at the private Goyal Hospital told AFP Friday that Clinton had undergone screening after suffering pain in her right hand following a fall.
The alliance is "dealing with the issue around this and in cyber and working to define an understanding of what would be a trigger for Article 5," General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, told a US Senate committee.
Speaking to reporters as he returned from a trip to Oman, Afghanistan and Bahrain, Mattis said officials he met with had expressed frequent concerns about Iranian behavior.
The newspaper said that Trump is discussing potential replacements for McMaster, but is willing to take his time because he wants to avoid humiliating him as well as to have a successor ready.
19 individuals, 5 entities blacklisted by Washington