Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kidnappers free Sulu hostage

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 11, 2010) – Kidnappers have freed one of two Filipino construction workers in the southern province of Sulu where security forces are battling Abu Sayyaf militants., officials said Thursday.

Gunmen seized two Muslim men who are both working on a US-funded road project in the town of Maimbung, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group blamed for previous kidnappings-for-ransom in the province.

Marine Lieutenant Benjamin Dolorfino, a regional military chief, said one hostage was freed in Sulu on Wednesday. “One of the two victims was released on Wednesday. There is an ongoing operation to rescue the remaining captive,” he said without elaborating.

Gunmen flagged down a dump truck and seized the two local workers.

They also torched the truck before escaping with their hostages. The remaining hostage was identified as Raja Haluid.

Philippine authorities were also trying to verify reports that two Malaysians abducted from a seaweed farm in Sabah had been taken either to Tawi-Tawi or Sulu provinces.

Malaysian authorities said that Chen Yui Chung, 48, and Lai Wong Chung, 46, were seized by five masked gunmen on Monday from the island of Sebangkat, off the town of Semporma, and were believed spirited to Tawi-Tawi or Sulu province, where Abu Sayyaf militants are actively operating.

The Abu Sayyaf previously kidnapped 21 mostly European and Asian holiday-makers in Sabah and brought them to Sulu where they had been ransomed off to Libyan negotiators. The hostages include three Germans, two French, two South Africans, and two Finns, one Lebanese, nine Malaysians and a Filipino working at the Sipadan Island Resort.

The latest victims were said to be a manager and his supervisor from a seaweed farm. The abductions came days after the United States warned their citizens from traveling to Sabah because of threats of kidnappings.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, although suspicion fell heavily to Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. (Mindanao Examiner)

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