An Indonesian vessel was hijacked and ten crew members were taken hostage in Philippine waters, reports said Tuesday. The Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group is suspected to be behind the hijacking and has reportedly demanded a ransom amount of 50 million pesos (US$1.07 million), according to local media.
"The latest news said it's true that an Indonesian-flagged vessel has been hijacked and its crewmen have been kidnapped," the Indonesian Embassy in Manila said, according to the Jakarta Post. The ship owner received ransom calls purpotedly from Abu Sayyaf militants, Indonesia interior ministry said, according to the Associated Press.
The Indonesian tug boat and coal barge was reportedly sailing from the the Indonesian part of Borneo island towards the Batangas province in the southern Philippines March 15, and is believed to have been captured Saturday. An Indonesian sailor reportedly first posted on Facebook about the hijacking, the Jakarta Post said.
"It's confirmed that one tugboat named Brahma 12 is under arrest by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the vessel is from Banjarmasin with coal cargo," the sailor had said.
According to the Straits Times, two tugboats had been hijacked but one of them was released. According to Philippines' Manila Bulletin, the hijacked vessel was a Taiwanese tugboat with an Indonesian crew.
Abu Sayyaf militants have kidnapped several foreigners in Philippines' southern islands in recent months and even reportedly beheaded a hostage last year. Abu Sayyaf militants have reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.