5 Indonesian captives spotted in Sulu
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2020 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Army troopers are tracking down five Indonesian fishermen being held captive by Abu Sayyaf bandits after the victims were reportedly spotted in the hinterlands of Maimbung, Sulu.

The Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) intensified its intelligence gathering as it gave assurance that the troops are ready to execute plans to liberate the captives. 

The JTFS did not give details of its plans as it would compromise the safety of the victims and the operating forces. 

The captives – identified as Arsyad Dahlan, La Baa, Riswanto Hayono, Edi Lawalopo and Syarizal Kastamiran – were seized by six armed men as they were fishing in the waters off Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia  on Jan. 17.

The kidnappers took the victims to Sulu, the military said, adding that two of the suspects were killed in an encounter on an island off Parang town, three days after the kidnapping.

The military expressed belief the kidnappers might have handed over the victims to another group before the encounter broke out. 

Sources said the captives were spotted two days after the military launched an airstrike and ground offensives in the hinterlands of Barangay Tambaking, Maimbung, where the followers of  Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Majan Sahijuan, alias Apo Mike, were believed hiding. 

The group of Apo Mike has been tagged in the cross-border kidnapping, reportedly in connivance with a contact from Sabah, the source said.

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