Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kidnapped girl freed, another still being held captive by Sayyaf in Basilan Island

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 30, 2008) – Gunmen freed Tuesday a four-year old girl they kidnapped in the southern Filipino island of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said Andrea Diman was released at around 1 p.m. in the village called Sinulatan in Tuburan town, two days after she was kidnapped in Lamitan City by two motorcycle men.

“There was no ransom or money paid to the kidnappers and the girl is finally reunited with her family,” Nick Castro, an aide of Lamitan Mayor Roderick Furigay, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said Furigay tapped former Tuburan Mayor Hajarun Jamiri to help in getting back the girl. “The former mayor is still influential in Tuburan and he was tapped to recover the girl without anything in return,” Castro said.

But Jamiri was linked by authorities to the bombing in the House of Representatives in November last year that killed Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar. He denied all accusations against him.

Castro said on order of Furigay, the girl was

No other details were made available about the release of the girl, but Jamiri is a brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Nur Hassan Jamiri, who was tagged by the police and military as behind the spate of kidnappings-for-ransom in Basilan in recent months.

It was unknown whether the Abu Sayyaf was behind the kidnapping of Diman, but Castro said the girl’s family is poor.

“The kidnappers thought the girl’s family are wealthy, but there are not. We hope the kidnappings in Basilan would stop,” he said.

Diman was snatched by two men as she was playing with other children Sunday night near a park in Lamitan City, where kidnappers also snatched a nine-year old girl, Nicole Raveche, on Nov. 26.

No group or individuals claimed responsibility for the Diman kidnapping, although authorities suspect the Abu Sayyaf as behind it.Meanwhile, Raveche's kidnappers have asked six million pesos in exchange for her safe release.

Just recently, Abu Sayyaf kidnappers freed a nursing student, Joed Pilangga, after more than two months in captivity in Basilan.

The 17-year old Pilangga was kidnapped Oct. 17 in Zamboanga City and brought by boat to Basilan, where his kidnappers demanded P20 million ransoms for his safe release. Police and military tagged the Abu Sayyaf as behind the kidnapping.

Early this month, gunmen also kidnapped seven construction workers in Basilan, but freed all of them a week later after Furigay negotiated for their release.

Two more people were people were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on December 2 near Maluso town also in Basilan, but they had been freed three days later.

Close to two dozen people had been kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants headed by Puruji Indama and Nur Hassan Jamiri in recent months and most of them had been freed in exchange for huge ransoms.

The sudden rise in kidnappings and spate of terrorist attacks in Basilan had been blamed to ransoms collected by the Abu Sayyaf. The money had been used to purchase weapons and recruit members, according to military reports. (Mindanao Examiner)

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