Saturday, February 28, 2009

MILF rebels to help secure release of kidnapped Sri Lankan peace worker in Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 28, 2009) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said it is helping to free a Sri Lankan peace worker being held by Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan province.

Umar Jaleel, a member of the international peace advocate group called Nonviolent Peaceforce, was kidnapped February 13 in the village of Maloong in Lamitan City.

Authorities blamed the kidnapping to the Abu Sayyaf, which is also holding three government teachers, lending firm employee and a boy they kidnapped in Zamboanga city and Basilan.

The MILF said it is heaving difficulty in negotiating with the kidnappers because the Abu Sayyaf is expecting to get ransom in exchange for the safe release of Jaleel. The Nonviolent Peaceforce said it will not pay ransom to the kidnappers.

“The kidnappers have one track mind and they won’t listen to reason,” an MILF negotiator said.

The MILF said it is helping secure the release of Jaleel on the following grounds: kidnapping is against the principles of Islam and policy of the MILF; for humanitarian reason - anyone in need of help must be helped; and that the Nonviolent Peaceforce is helping in the peace process.

It said Jaleel arrived in Basilan late last year and has been working with local non-government organizations on the conduct of seminars on human rights in several communities.

An Abu Sayyaf faction is also holding hostage three members of the Red Cross and a Chinese trader in Sulu province. (Mindanao Examiner)

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