MANILA: Two days after Indonesian authorities reported the abduction of seven of their seamen by Filipino terrorists in the Sulu Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Sunday finally confirmed the incident.
Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the Western Mindanao Command, which has jurisdiction over the area, reported that seven of 13 Indonesians, including the boatâ€™s captain, were snatched from a tugboat on June 22 at 11am in the Sulu Sea.
â€œInformation from ground units suggest the kidnap victims are possibly being held captive somewhere in Sulu,â€ Padilla said.
The Abu Sayyaf snatched 17 other Indonesian sailors in separate incidents in March and April, although they have since been released. Several Malaysians were also abducted.
Indonesia on Friday announced a halt to coal shipments to the Philippines until Manila could secure its own waters.
â€œThe moratorium on coal exports to the Philippines will be extended until there is a guarantee for security from the Philippines government,â€ Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported seeing a 20-minute video in which a man identified by Malaysian authorities as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, speaks in Malay: â€œIf you cannot go to [Syria], join up and go to the Philippines.â€
In the video, Udin urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January. Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network