The Filipino government, with the help of a rebel group, secured the release of three Indonesian hostages on Sunday, September 16. Police reported that the Moro National Liberation Front, a former rebel group that is at peace with the Filipino government, assisted in the release of the hostages from Indanan (Sulu) in southern Philippines. The trio were kidnapped by off the coast of Sabah (Malaysia) by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen in early 2017. It is not clear if a ransom was paid for the safe release. The three Indonesian fishermen seized on September 11 are still missing.
The three hostages were seized off the coast of Sabah (Malaysia), near the Tawi-Tawi islands of the Philippines, in early 2017. There is a historical risk of kidnap-for-ransom in Sabah and nearby areas, including Philippine's Sulu archipelago (Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces). Many of these incidents were linked to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which formed in 1991 and has since pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding at least 14 other hostages.
Many Western governments advice their citizens against travel to southern Philippines and eastern Sabah (Malaysia) due to the threat of kidnapping and criminality on the eastern coast of Sabah and the islands of the Sulu archipelago.
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