Indonesian seafarer swims to freedom from Abu Sayyaf captors

An Indonesian tugboat seafarer, threatened with beheading, has swam to freedom having been captured by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Philippines on June 23.

Mohammad Safyan, 28, and six other crew from the tugboat Charles were abducted in the Sulu Sea and taken to Jolo island.

Safyan is understood to have made his bid for freedom at night time along with one other seafarer when his captors threatened to execute him. The fate of the other seafarer is unknown.

“We were told he managed to escape by running and swimming to the sea,” an army spokesperson said today.

“We have no information on the other captives but troops in the area were ordered to use all means to locate and rescue the hostages.”

Abu Sayyaf has been targeting smaller ships transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas this year, taking crews for ransom, an escalating problem that has seen the navies of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia up patrols in the area. Splash lead Opinion writer Andrew Craig-Bennett has described the area as “the next Somalia”.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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