Monday, November 09, 2009

Abu Sayyaf beheads kidnapped school principal in southern Philippines

A television grab from ABS-CBN television shows an undated photo of kidnapped school principal, Gabriel Canizares, whose severed head was discovered in a bag left at a gas station in the capital town of Jolo in Sulu province on Monday, November 9, 2009. Security officials said the 36-year old Canizares was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf on October 19 in Sulu's Patikul town. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 9, 2009) – Abu Sayyaf gunmen beheaded a school principal they kidnapped in Sulu province in the southern Philippines after his family failed to pay ransom.

Security officials said the severed head of Gabriel Canizares was discovered in a bag left at a gas station in the capital town of Jolo at around 5 a.m.

The kidnappers originally demanded two million pesos for his liberty and eventually lowered this to one million pesos. His body is still missing.

“Terrorists have again proven their barbaric nature today. At 5 a.m., the head of Mr. Gabriel Canizares was found in Jolo. The joint military and police team that was coordinating with the Crisis Management Committee for Canizares’ rescue will shift to punitive action,” said Marine Major Ramon David Hontiveros, a regional military spokesman.

The 36-year old principal of the Kanague Elementary School in Patikul town was kidnapped October 19 in the town of Patikul in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Canizares was in a jeep returning home to Jolo when a dozen gunmen flagged down the vehicle and took him away in front of his terrified Muslim teachers in the village of Tanum.

“The head was in a bag and left at the gas station in Jolo. His body has not been found, but we are closely working with other police forces to find the body. There is an ongoing police operation against the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” said Chief Inspector Usman Pingay, the Jolo police chief.

The discovery of the head coincided with the state of the regional address of Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, who governs the Muslim provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao and Maguindanao. Ampatuan, who is in his second term as governor of the Muslim autonomous region, rarely visits the provinces.

Teachers have previously appealed to the government to give importance and attention to Canizares just like what Manila is giving kidnapped Irish Catholic priest Michael Sinnott.

The 79-year old Sinnott was taken at gunpoint by six men from his house in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province in Mindanao on October 11.

The Abu Sayyaf is a small, but the most violent rebel group tagged by the police and military as behind the spate of attacks and terrorism in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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