ISABELA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 6, 2009) – Government troops on Saturday were tracking down Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the spate of kidnappings in the restive Basilan province, south of Zamboanga City.
Troops on Friday killed a suspected kidnapper and a captured his companion after a firefight in Tipo-Tipo town, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“There is an operation,” said Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, the provincial police chief.
The Abu Sayyaf has recently freed a kidnapped Sri Lankan peace worker Umar Jaleel after the MILF helped negotiate for his freedom.
Jaleel, a member of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, was kidnapped in February after gunmen barged into their headquarters in Lamitan City.
Authorities said no ransom was paid for his liberty. Three Filipino teachers kidnapped in Zamboanga City and taken to Basilan were also released last week after alleged payment of ransom.
Soldiers were tracking down the Abu Sayyaf headed by Nur Hassan Jamiri and Puruji Indama, who have links with the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is fighting for independence.
Soldiers last week had killed at least kidnappers, including an MILF commander Usman Lidjal, in Basilan province. (Mindanao Examiner)