The Indonesian government has apologised to Malaysia over the kidnapping of five loggers in Sarawak recently
New Straits Times reported today, 24 December, that Indonesia has informed the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that its soldiers were wrong to hold five Malaysians hostage on 11 December.
"Indonesia has admitted their mistake, and they welcomed our reminder to ensure that it (the kidnap) will not happen again," Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya was quoted as saying by New Straits Times after a dialogue at Institut Pemikiran Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.
The Malaysian loggers were accused of stealing wood near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border on 11 December, before being allegedly kidnapped by two Tentera Nasional Indonesia (TNI) personnel
The New Sunday Times reported that the loggers, aged between 15 and 64, were harvesting wood at the Wong Rangkai forest, 400 metres from the border when they were approached by the soldiers.
They were then held at gunpoint and bundled into their pickup by Indonesian soldiers and ordered to drive across the border.
Along the journey, the loggers were reportedly roughed up by the soldiers, who threatened to shoot them if they resisted.
They were brought to an Indonesian base, and forced to admit to stealing wood in Indonesia. Their heads were covered with black hoods and they were ordered to strip.
The soldiers, who allegedly encroached on Malaysian territory, ordered a ransom for the release of the loggers.
By 12 December, all loggers were released from hostage following negotiations between Malaysian and Indonesian soldiers.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu assured that the military cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia will not be affected by the incident
"The incident does not have any effect on our (Malaysian-Indonesian) relationship. Our relationship with Indonesia is close. All problems can be resolved at the negotiating table," the Minister, better known as Mat Sabu, said yesterday after the Ex-Servicemen Affairs Corporation (Perhebat) 52nd convocation.
On the Indonesian side, Jakarta has also pledged to prevent the incident from happening again, as it was a violation of Malaysia's sovereignty.
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