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Jakarta suggests bigger vessels, guards onboard to stop Abu Sayyaf attacks

Jakarta suggests bigger vessels, guards onboard to stop Abu Sayyaf attacks
Among the solutions the Indonesian government is considering to help solve the piracy problem in the waters around Kalimantan and the Southern Philippines is providing bigger barges for coal exports to the Philippines, local reports said.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan was quoted as saying that the rather small size of Indonesian-flagged tugboats traveling across the border could be one reason why they often became victims of hijackings by militant groups.

“The vessels that we use to deliver coal are rather small and susceptible to being hijacked. If we used bigger barges it would be harder [for other groups to take them over],” Luhut said.

He was speaking after a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in which they discussed options to secure the release of 10 Indonesian sailors who have been abducted on various occasions by what is suspected to be different factions of the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

The government is also analysing why the Filipino militants’ are targetting Indonesian sailors, Luhut said. While ransoms might be a key factor, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander General Gatot Nurmantyo earlier also noted that the militants know Indonesian vessels are not guarded by military personnel and therefore the lack of security could be an additional factor in the hijackings. 

To step up security measures, the TNI has prepared personnel to guard every barge and tugboat traveling in the regional waters, with at least five TNI personnel on each vessel, Gatot added.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla meanwhile has urged the employers of kidnapped crewmen not to resort to paying ransoms for their release, saying that paying ransoms only encouraged further kidnappings,

"I am 100% sure the government has never negotiated in regard to money. But it's possible the companies did. For the safety of their employees they have negotiated, but this has led to the [repeated abductions]," Kalla was quoted as saying by local news agencies.