Four Indonesian hostages released by the Abu Sayyaf group returned to Indonesia over the weekend, an official has confirmed.
“They departed from the Philippines on Saturday and the process was handled by the Foreign Ministry,” Wibanarto Eugenius, ministerial counselor at the Indonesian Embassy in Manila, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
He added that along with usual procedures, the four Indonesian sailors would undergo medical check-ups in Jakarta before they returned to their families in their respective hometowns.
Three of the captives, namely Theodorus Kopong Koten, Lorens Koten and Emmanuel, were crewmen on board a Malaysian-flagged boat hijacked by Abu Sayyaf militants in Lahat Datu waters, Malaysia, on July 9.
The fourth sailor, Harman Manggak, was the captain of another Malaysian-flagged fishing boat attacked by armed militants in Sabah waters on Aug. 3.
The men were released on two separate occasions last week. The government has claimed that no ransom was paid for their release.
Unlike previous hostage releases, the government stayed quiet about the return of the sailors, providing no public information on their arrival time or a ceremony to mark the official handover to their families.
Five other Indonesian sailors remain in captivity. They have been held since June 21 by the Philippine militant group, which is notorious for extracting ransom payments in return for the lives of hostages.