ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 21, 2009) – Police stormed a rebel hideout and rescued a kidnapped farm owner in the southern province of Basilan, where five more hostages, including a Sri Lankan peace worker are still being held captive.
Police said Hernald Chavez was rescued at around 8 p.m. Monday in the village of Magkawa in Al-Barka town, but his five captors managed to escape.
Rebels seized 22-year old Chavez on April 10 together with Cosme Aballes, who later killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants.
“Chavez has been rescued and there is an operation to track down his kidnappers,” said Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, the provincial police chief.
Macapantar said about 40 gunmen were involved in the kidnapping of Chavez and Aballes and tagged Abu Sayyaf commander Puruji Indama and Inting Ramos and MILF leader Usman Lidjal as among those who led the attack.
He said police and military are also searching for five more hostages - government teachers Quizon Freires, 28; Janette Delos Reyes, 29; and Rafael L. Mayonado, 24, kidnapped in January in Zamboanga City and a lending firm collector Leah Patris, seized near Basilan’s Maluso town and a Sri Lankan national, Umar Jaleel, a member of the international peace advocate group called Nonviolent Peaceforce, both were kidnapped in February.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small band of militants blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks and is still holding an Italian Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni who was seized in January in Sulu province. While the MILF s the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group. (Mindanao Examiner)