ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 1, 2010) – Gunmen have freed 10 people they seized on a remote village in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, but held on to two others as negotiations continue Wednesday to free the remaining hostages, officials said.
Officials said the captives were released safely late Tuesday afternoon in the town of Ungkaya Pukan where the gunmen abducted 12 people, mostly fishermen, on November 27.
“We are glad that 10 hostages had been freed and we are trying to win the freedom of the remaining captives,” said Basilan deputy governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul.
He said local village leaders and the council of elders are negotiating for the release of the remaining hostages being held by a gang led by Pawi Hambali.
“This is an offshoot of a long time family feud and we are doing everything to peacefully resolve the problem,” Sakalahul said, adding the abduction was triggered by a land conflict.
Sakalahul said: “Hambali seized the fishermen thinking they were relatives of his foes and to force the other family to settle their feud. But it turned out that 10 of those abducted had nothing to do with the conflict.”
Hambali’s group is demanding blood money in exchange for the freedom of the remaining hostages, he said.
Family feud or clan war is not uncommon in Basilan or in many parts of Mindanao, especially in Muslim areas where random attacks stemming from the conflicts occur. The feud could sometimes last for decades and would often target innocent clan members. (Mindanao Examiner)