Monday, March 21, 2011

Sayyafs strike ahead of US officials visit to Basilan province

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 21, 2011) – Abu Sayyaf rebels seized before dawn Monday a Filipino man who is working for a wealthy trader in the restive southern province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said the rebels led by a ruthless commander Nur Hassan Jamiri barged in the house of trader Charlie Cawley in Lamitan City and abducted Rolando dela Cruz. The gunmen fled on a small jeep which they later torched.

“The victim is the caretaker of Cawley restaurant which is owned by businessman Charlie Cawley,” said Army Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman.

It was unknown whether Cawley was in the house or not at the time of the raid, but the military tagged two more Abu Sayyaf rebels – Ustadz Salim Tado and Pula – as among those who were in the group of Jamiri.

“There is an ongoing operation to track down the victim,” Cabangbang 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.

The kidnapping coincided with the two-day visit of US Ambassador Harry Thomas, Jr. in Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu provinces. Thomas arrived on Monday in Zamboanga City to inspect US-funded projects and will fly to Basilan and Sulu on Tuesday where he will sign a $1.3 million US grant in support of the Literacy for Peace and Development Program for adults in the Sulu Archipelago.

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)

No comments: