Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sayyaf terrorists hold on to Red Cross hostages in the Philippines

Security forces and armed village guards pull out Sunday, March 29, 2009 from Indanan town where the Abu Sayyaf is holding hostage three Red Cross workers to allow peaceful negotiations for their safe release. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Nickee Butlangan).

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 29, 2009) – Philippine authorities on Sunday were awaiting release of one of three Red Cross workers being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf after troops pulled out from a terrorist stronghold in the southern province of Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf has twice threatened to behead one hostage by Tuesday if security forces do not move away from its jungle lair in Indanan town.

The group, notorious for killing and kidnapping foreigners for ransom, is holding Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba after seizing them on January 15 in Patikul town where they inspected a water and sanitation project at a prison facility.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno ordered the military and police to remove their forces around Indanan town to open negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf and save the hostages.

The terrorists previously promised to free one captive after troops pulled out from Indanan, but reneged on its commitment and demanded that armed village guards also move away from near their stronghold.

Wire reports on Sunday said the Abu Sayyaf terrorists were now demanding a bigger military withdrawal with solders staying inside their barracks in Jolo town on the other side of Indanan.

It quoted Sulu Governor Sakur Tan as saying that Parad phoned him to demand for a total military pull out. Tan previously said that any pull out by troops in Indanan town could give the Abu Sayyaf an opportunity to escape with their hostages and consolidate forces and kidnap more civilians, virtually putting at risk many people in the province.

Soldiers were demoralized by orders for them to pull out in Indanan town because three had already died and 23 other wounded in fierce fighting last week after Parad’s group tried to break through from the military cordon.

The military and police said among those holding the aid workers were members of the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya, possibly Dulmatin, Marwan and Umar Patek, all wanted by Jakarta for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 mostly foreigners.
(Mindanao Examiner)

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