Indonesian VP: Paying ransoms encourages more Abu Sayyaf kidnappings
Abu Sayyaf militants raise their guns at a gathering in the Philippines. (AFP/File)
Indonesia's vice president has underlined the danger of paying ransoms to kidnappers, telling journalists Tuesday that those who enter such negotiations put others in jeopardy
"If it [piracy] is tolerated, it will cause the next piracy," Jusuf Kalla was quoted as saying by kompas.com.
"But for the sake of the salvation of their employees, businessmen are negotiating. As a result of this [hostage situations are reoccurring]."
On Sunday, Malaysian police revealed that five gunmen in “military appearance” had seized three Indonesians from a Malaysian-registered fishing trawler, but released four other crew.
The kidnapping was the fourth this year targeting Indonesians on the Sulu and Celebes seas, where militants based in the southern Philippines, including the Daesh-affiliated Abu Sayyaf, operate.
In the two earlier incidents, the Indonesian crew was later released, with Indonesia insisting that the government had not paid ransom.
"I want to emphasize that the government never talks gives money. But for businessmen it is possible," Kalla said.
Also Tuesday, Coordinating Minister for Political Legal and Security Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said Indonesia was investigating why hostage-takers only targeted Indonesian citizens when there were other citizens on the trawlers.
The Indonesian trio taken July 10 was seized on production of their passports, while the four others -- three of them from the Philippines -- were released.
Kidnap-for-ransom gangs operating in the Sulu and Celebes seas are known to hand over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.
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.
Earlier this year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages after ransoms failed to be paid. It has threatened to decapitate a Norwegian captured with them in September if a P300-million ($6 million) ransom demand is not met.
By Ainur Rohmah
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