Pirates free kidnapped tugboat crew

Four Malaysian crew members, who were taken hostage from their tug Massive 6 in April, have been released on Jolo, Philippines, Reuters cited a Philippine army spokesman as saying.

The crew members were kidnapped on April 1 while their tug was underway some 17 nautical miles East of Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia.

A group of eight armed pirates, believed to have been a part of the Filipino Muslim militants, the Abu Sayyaf group, approached and boarded the tug, stealing crew personal belongings and taking four crew members as hostages.

At the time of the incident, the tug was towing a barge loaded with 7,500 tons of coal.

It was not confirmed whether a ransom had been paid for the release of the crewmembers.

The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier said that the hijacked tug Massive 6 had been returned to its owner, Highline Shipping Sdn. Bhd on April 12, adding that the vessels’s owner replaced the abducted crew with four Indonesian crew members.

In early May, ten Indonesian seafarers, who were kidnapped in the Philippine waters, were released after being held in captivity for over a month.

The crew was taken hostage after their tug Brahma 12 and the barge Anand 12 were hijacked during a voyage from Sungai Puting, South Kalimatan to Batangas, South Philippines.

The tug was released by the end of March, while the crew, believed to have been taken by Abu Sayyaf, remained in captivity, with their whereabouts unknown.

The owner of the tug Brahma 12 reportedly agreed to pay a ransom in the amount of IDR 14.3 billion (USD 1 million) for the ten kidnapped crewmembers.



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