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Abducted Indonesian sailor found in fishing nets after swimming to freedom

An Indonesian sailor has swum to freedom almost two months after he was abducted from a tugboat in the southern Philippines by Abu Sayyaf militants who threatened to behead him, officials said.

Mohammad Sayfan, 28, was rescued by residents on southern Jolo Island who found him floating and trapped in fishing nets along the shore in a mangrove area, said military spokesman Major Filemon Tan.

Mr Sayfan was one of seven crew members abducted from a tugboat near the Philippine border in June.

Sixteen other foreign hostages, including nine Indonesians, are still being held by the violent Muslim extremist group in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed in May to carry out co-ordinated patrols in a bid to thwart kidnappings and piracy that have undermined commerce in the region.

A total of 24 Indonesians have been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf this year, highlighting weak security in the Celebes Sea that borders Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Ten of the hostages were freed after ransoms were reportedly paid.

The Philippines says it has stepped up a military offensive against the militants, who earlier this year beheaded two Canadian hostages.

Besides the Indonesians, five Malaysians, one Norwegian, a Dutchman and at least five Filipinos are also being held by the militants.

Washington and Manila list the Abu Sayyaf, which has more than 400 fighters, as a terrorist organisation.



From Belfast Telegraph