Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2 Moro rebels arrested for ex-soldier's kidnapping in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 23, 2010) – Police authorities captured two alleged Moro rebels tagged as involved in the kidnapping of a former government solider in Zamboanga City, officials said.

Officials said the two men Abraham Ibno and Ansar Yusop were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s Muslim rebel group which is fighting for self-determination in the restive southern region.

The rebels were arrested after they released Benjamin Almonte late Friday near the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Almonte was abducted by gunmen February 6 while fishing off the coast of the village of Manicahan in Zamboanga City.

“We captured the two in a continuing operation,” said Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, head of the anti-terror Task Force Trillium, and commander of the naval forces in Western Mindanao.

Almonte said his captors freed him for a still unknown reason. “The leader of the kidnappers, whom they called Commander, said he is releasing me because he pities me,” he said.

He said his two escorts ran away after they saw a group of men who turned out to be government intelligence agents. “I also ran away and ended up on the side of the government people, and one of them grabbed me and told me that I am safe and that they are from the government side,” Almonte said.

Almonte’s family did not say whether ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

No group claimed responsibility for Almonte’s kidnapping or the motive behind this and police said it still investigating the case. But other sources said members of the so-called MILF’s special operation group under Waning Abdusalam were behind the kidnapping.

Abdusalam was also linked to the kidnapping last year of Irish Catholic priest Michael Sinnott in Zamboanga del Sur province. Sinnott, 80, was taken by six gunmen on October 11 from his missionary house in Pagadian City and brought to Lanao province and freed in Zamboanga City after a month in captivity.

Abu Sayyaf militants had also kidnapped many people, including foreigners, in Zamboanga City in previous attacks and brought them to nearby Basilan and other areas in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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