The Indonesian government has intensified measures to secure the repatriation of two Indonesian hostages who were recently released by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines, a minister has said.
The two fishermen, La Utu Raali and La Hadi La Adi, were released by the extremist group on Friday last week after being held hostage for more than a year since being kidnapped on Nov. 5, 2016 in Sulu waters.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the two men currently stayed with the Indonesian Consulate General in Davao and were waiting for exit clearances to be issued from the Philippines so they could return home soon.
“I have communicated with the Philippine authorities earlier [on Monday] morning to request that the exit clearance be issued as soon as possible,” Retno told journalists on Monday.
Retno added that the government officials had continued efforts and coordination with their Philippine counterparts to secure the release of the three remaining Indonesian hostages held by the rebel group.
Abu Sayyaf militants, notorious for holding foreign hostages for ransom, have been known to target Indonesian sailors aboard slow-moving boats on the Sulu-Sulawesi trade route, with a string of kidnappings occurring throughout 2016 and in early 2017.
The group, linked to the Islamic State (IS) movement, poses one of the biggest internal security threats for the Philippines, with one faction pursuing an extremist agenda and another involved in lucrative banditry, including piracy and kidnapping.