Thursday, December 02, 2010

Basilan schools closed due to threats of kidnappings, terrorism

Army soldiers patrol the street of Basilan province in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 2, 2010) - Several government schools in the restive province of Basilan in the southern Philippines have closed because of threats of kidnappings.

Kidnappers are holding a school principal and a trader in Basilan and have threatened to seize more teachers. The gang holding Cecilia Sosas, principal of Baas Elementary School, has demanded one million pesos for her safe release, but her family said they could not afford to pay ransom.

“The teachers are sympathizing with the family of Sosas and they have closed schools until their safety has been assured by authorities,” said Basilan deputy governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul.

He said the military has put up detachments in villages to protect civilians from harm, but there is a need for local leaders to help secure the community from threats of kidnappings and terrorism.

“We need the support of the village leaders and the civilians themselves for protection against these kinds of threats. Even if we put a battalion of soldiers in every village and no matter how many troops the military deploy if there is no support from each and every one the problem will always be there,” Sakalahul said.

Sosas was kidnapped on November 15 and the trader, Rose Baranda, on November 2. Baranda’s Abu Sayyaf captors led by Nur Hassan Jamiri demanded three million ransom for her freedom.

The group was also tied to terrorism in the southern Philippines and is on the top list of the country’s law enforcement agencies. Kidnappings and terrorism are not uncommon in Basilan where dozens had been seized and freed in exchange for ransoms and those who cannot afford to pay are killed. (Mindanao Examiner)

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