Kidnapped Indonesian sailors plea for gov't help

14:54, April 11, 2011      

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The captain of a ship carrying 20 Indonesian sailors kidnapped by Somali pirates almost a month ago made an emotional plea for the president intervention to free them from the hijackers' captivity, local media reported on Monday.

"To the Indonesian government, please rescue us," Slamet Jauhari said by telephone. He said the pirates were demanding 2.5 million US dollars in ransom and threatened to raise the amount unless they received confirmation from the ship's owner or the Indonesian government that the money would be paid.

"I am asking the Indonesian government, Bapak SBY or any businessman who has the money, please save my crew," Slamet said, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by his initials.

The government will only say that efforts are ongoing to secure the release of the sailors who have been held hostage aboard the Indonesian ship Sinar Kudus since March 16.

The sailors were taken hostage in the Gulf of Aden while en route to Amsterdam after Somali pirates ambushed their vessel, which is carrying 8,300 tons of nickel worth about 1.5 trillion rupiah (175 million US dollars) produced by Aneka Tambang, the Jakarta Globe reported.

"The Indonesian government is deeply concerned with this situation and we are investigating options to settle this problem as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

Marty said the ship's owner had been in constant communication with the pirates, but he declined to comment further on the efforts as he did not want to jeopardize the hostages' lives.

In his telephone interview with local TV station, Metro TV, on Sunday, Slamet said he was in good health but 12 of his crew members were ill. "There is no clean water, we are only fed once a day and 12 of my crew are mentally crushed," he said.

The family members of the sailors have also been pleading for action on the case.

Ministry of Defense spokesperson, Col. Hartind, said that negotiations were ongoing and the government so far had no plans to send Navy commandos to rescue the Indonesian crew.

Source: Xinhua
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