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Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia to follow up on agreed joint action against hostage situations

The defense ministers of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia will hold another meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (11/07) to further discuss joint measures in hostage situations along border areas, Indonesia’s foreign minister said.

The three neighboring countries made an agreement to heighten security along border areas with joint patrols during a meeting between the defense ministers in Yogyakarta in early May.

“We will not start from nothing because there has been a joint understanding followed by standard operating procedures reached by the military commanders of the three countries,” Retno Marsudi said on Monday.

“We hope there will be a concrete measure that could immediately be implemented.”

In two separate attacks, seven of the 13 Indonesian crew members aboard a tugboat and barge were abducted by two groups affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf rebel group in the Sulu Sea, southern Philippines, late last month.

The groups have reportedly demanded a ransom of around 20 million pesos ($421,000) for the return of the Indonesian nationals, who were traveling back to Samarinda, East Kalimantan, at the time. The incident was the third in as many months.

Ten Indonesians were released in early May following a series of negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf group, after they were held hostage for more than a month. Four other Indonesians who were abducted by a different chapter of the group were released ten days later.

Either the Indonesian government or the ship owner from the previous abduction incidents are suspected of paying the ransom demands, a move that some have predicted will allow the situation to continue.

Source: The Jakarta Globe