Philippines: Indonesian crewman escapes from Abu Sayyaf militants after death threats

Mohammad Safyan escapes by swimming out to sea after the extremists threatened to cut his head off.

An Indonesian tugboat crewman escaped from Abu Sayyaf militant captors on Wednesday by swimming out to sea, a Philippine army spokesman said.

Members of Abu Sayyaf group which is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured Mohammad Safyan on June 23 along with six other Indonesian seamen when their boat was passing through waters off southern Philippine islands.

Major Filemon Tan, an army spokesperson said that the 28-year-old Safyan was spotted by residents of Jolo island as he was floating off the shore. Safyan managed to escape from his captors after the militants threatened to cut his head off.

"We were told he managed to escape by running and swimming to the sea," Tan told Reuters.

"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," he added.

Abu Sayyaf extremists have developed a reputation as ruthless kidnappers after a series of abductions in recent times.

The rise of hijacking incidents at sea has prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia governments to try to coordinate maritime patrols in order to control such incidents.

Recently, the group beheaded two Canadians whom they had kidnapped from a beach resort after a ransom deadline passed.

Major Tan said the Abu Sayyaf militants were still holding 15 foreign hostages, including a Dutch, a Norwegian, five Malaysians and eight Indonesians. Eight Filipinos were also captured in the group's jungle stronghold.