Monday, March 21, 2011

Sayyaf hostage freed in Basilan province

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 22, 2011) – Abu Sayyaf rebels have freed Monday a Filipino man they abducted in the southern province of Basilan as security forces pursued them in the town of Tuburan, police said Monday.

Police said Rolando dela Cruz was recovered by pursuing soldiers and police commandos in the remote village of Sinulatan.

“The recovery of Rolando dela Cruz was made possible through the pursuit and combat operations being applied by the combined efforts of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and composite elements the police that pressured the perpetrators to release the victim,” Senior Superintendent Alexis Lineses, the provincial police chief, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said Dela Cruz was handed over to Lamitan Mayor Roderick Furigay, who heads the local crisis management committee.

“Dela Cruz was later brought to the clinic for medical check-up,” the police official said.

The victim’s release came ahead of a visit of top US officials led by Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., to Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. Thomas will inspect Tuesday various US-funded projects in Basilan and will also visit Sulu province.

Rebels abducted Dela Cruz after they barged before dawn Monday in the house of a wealthy trader Charlie Cawley in Lamitan City. Dela Cruz works for Cawley as a caretaker in his restaurant.

The military tagged two more Abu Sayyaf rebels – Ustadz Salim Tado and Pula – in the abduction whose original target was Cawley himself, but he was not in the house at the time of the raid.

“There is an ongoing operation against the Abu Sayyaf,” Lineses said.

Jamiri was also tagged as behind the kidnapping of Larry Tam Delos Santos, who owns a restaurant and a farm resort in Isabela City in Basilan, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Delos Santos was kidnapped in December last year and the Abu Sayyaf demanded P20 million for his safe release. Jamiri’s group was also behind the spate of kidnappings and terrorism in Basilan province and in nearby Zamboanga City and is on the top list of the military’s most wanted terrorists.

Thomas was in Zamboanga City on Monday where he also inspected US projects in various locations. US troops are deployed in Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu since 2001 to help train local troops in fighting terrorism.

Last week, the US military paid some $70,000 to Filipino informants in Basilan who helped soldiers tracked down and killed an Abu Sayyaf rebel Suhod Tanadjalin. (Mindanao Examiner)

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