Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Indonesia will set up a crisis centre headed by President Joko Widodo to handle security situations involving its citizens overseas.

Minister for Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said on April 25 that the centre will include senior ministers and military and police chiefs. It will be designed to respond quickly to situations that could have a "strategic impact".

The information was unveiled following the abduction of 18 Indonesians and Malaysians in three attacks in recent weeks in Philippine waters by groups suspected of being linked to the Abu Sayyaf militant network.

Abu Sayyaf has demanded 50 million pesos (1.1 million USD) to free the hostages. However, the Indonesian government has said it does not intend to pay the ransom.

Since taking office in 2014, President Widodo has placed maritime security high on his government's agenda.

Indonesia has voiced fears that a surge in piracy in the waters between Indonesia and the Philippines could reach Somalian levels and has told vessels to avoid dangerous areas.-VNA