Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sayyaf Releases Hostage, Holds On To 4 More In Basilan Island

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 26, 2008) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed one of five kidnapped workers of a rural electric company in Basilan island in the southern Philippines, military reports said.

It said Ronnie Tansiung was released late Thursday in Tuburan town, where militants seized the five earlier in the day. No details about the release of the hostage were made available by the military, except Tansiung is a native of Basilan.

Police and military identified the remaining hostages as brothers Alberto and Emilberto Singson; Paul Herowig and his brother Birin. The victims are workers of the Basilan Electric Cooperative Inc.

Alfredo Oyao, the victims’ manager, said among the hostages was a foreman and electric meter readers. Oyao said they are yet to hear from the kidnappers. The fate of the

Authorities blamed the Abu Sayyaf and members of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front as behind the latest kidnapping. It tagged Nurhasan Jamiri and Furuji Indama as among those who seized the workers.

The motive of the kidnapping is still unknown, but a faction of the Abu Sayyaf last week freed a kidnapped ABS-CBN television Ces Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, including a Muslim university professor Octavio Dinampo in nearby Sulu province in exchange for a huge ransom.

The latest attack coincided with the pronouncement of Philippine military chief Alexander Yano that the Abu Sayyaf, which was originally fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state similar to Afghanistan, has been reduced to being bandits.

“We still look at them as a loose organization with some splinter groups, in fact, some of them may be conducting their own operations, and now, has degenerated into a money-making group devoid of any ideology or cause,” Yano told a media forum in Manila. (With reports from Nonong Santiago)

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