Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kidnapped boy recovered in Basilan province

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 2, 2009) – Military authorities on Sunday said a kidnapped five-year old boy was recovered in Basilan province in the southern Philippines.

Army First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the victim, Joven Aries dela Cruz was recovered on Saturday in the town of Mohammad Ajul.

The boy was seized July 28 by two motorcycle gunmen in front of his house in Lamitan City.

“The victim is presently under the custodial care of Mayor Pawaki. He will be brought to Lamitan for medical examination,” Cacho said.

Cacho was referring to the mayor of Mohammad Ajul, Talib Pawaki, who negotiated for the boy’s release. It was not immediately known if ransom was paid in exchange for the boy’s freedom.

“I don’t think ransom was paid,” Cacho said without further elaborating.

Details of the negotiations or how the boy, the son of a carpenter, was recovered were unclear. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the boy’s kidnapping, but previous incidents in the troubled province were largely blamed to Abu Sayyaf militants whose group has links with the Indonesian terrorist Jemaah Islamiya.

Last month, security forces also rescued two abducted fishermen - Ronnie Nabi and Renante Saquien - after a firefight with suspected Moro rebels in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

The two were rescued in Akbar town after policemen, backed by soldiers stormed the village of Semut and clashed with the kidnappers. The fishermen were abducted off Basilan in March after gunmen attacked their trawler and killed three of its crew.

In January, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also intercepted a small boat carrying state teachers off Zamboanga City and seized the trio and brought them by boat to Basilan and freed in May after private negotiators allegedly paid huge ransoms for their liberty.

More than two dozen civilians, including a Sri Lankan peace worker, were kidnapped for ransom and eventually freed in Basilan since early this year. (Mindanao Examiner)

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