Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kidnappers free Filipino hostage in Basilan province

Freed kidnapped finance collector Leah Patris is escorted by soldiers as she arrives at a naval base in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines after her regaining her liberty Sunday, June 7, 2009 from more than four months in captivity. Patris says she escaped from her captors, who originally demanded P10-million ransom for her safe release. Police tagged former Moro National Liberation Front rebels under Commander Abugao as behind her kidnapping. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Jung Francisco)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 7, 2009) – A kidnapped Filipino woman was freed Sunday after four months in captivity in the troubled province of Basilan, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said Leah Patris, who works with a micro-finance company, was found by a villager at around 3.30 a.m. walking alone near the village of Lower Benengbengan in the town of Sumisip.

“She was found by a villager named Malikil and brought to the police in Sumisip town. Patris is weak and tired, but she is doing fine and with the military now,” said Al Rasheed Sakalahul, the provincial deputy governor.

He said Patris was probably freed because of intense pressure of the police and military operation in the town. “They kidnappers may have felt the pressure of the police and military operations and let go of the victim,” Sakalahul said.

Patris along with two others - Ahmad Ilang and Nasra Mudjain - were on a motorcycle when three gunmen intercepted them February 3 in the village of Upper Benengbengan in Sumisip town.

The trio were heading to Maluso town after collecting more than P50,000 from clients in Sumisip town when gunmen seized them, said Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, Basilan police chief.

Mudjain and Ilang were freed by the kidnappers who later demanded P10 million for the safe release of Patris, an employee of the Kasanyangan Foundation Inc.

Police have tagged former Moro National Liberation Front rebels led by Commander Abugao as behind the kidnappings.

Troops on Friday killed a suspected kidnapper and a captured his companion after a firefight in Tipo-Tipo town near Sumisip.

The Abu Sayyaf has recently freed a kidnapped Sri Lankan peace worker Umar Jaleel after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) helped negotiate for his freedom.

Jaleel, a member of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, was also kidnapped in February after gunmen barged into their headquarters in Lamitan City. Authorities said no ransom was paid for his liberty.

Troops also killed 10 kidnappers, including a senior MILF commander, Usman Lidjal, in Basilan a day after gunmen freed three Filipino teachers they seized in Zamboanga City.
(Mindanao Examiner)

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