Thursday, September 01, 2011

Philippine military to launch new offensive vs. Sayyaf

Philippine soldiers patrol the southern province of Sulu on Thursday, September 1, 2011. Government forces are preparing to launch new offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the spate of attacks and kidnappings for ransom in the strife-torn region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 1, 2011) – The Philippine military is set to launch a new offensive against the militant group Abu Sayyaf which is still holding three foreigners and three Filipinos in the southern province of Sulu.

Security officials would not say when the offensive would start, but the target of the operation is the town of Patikul where militants killed 7 marines and wounded over a dozen soldiers on July 28.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding an Indian national Bijukolara Veetil, 36, who was kidnapped in June while visiting the parents of his Filipino wife in Patikul town.

A Malaysian lizard trader, Mohammad Nasaruddin Bensaidin, 38, from Kuala Lumpur, was also kidnapped in Indanan town on April. The militants are also holding a Japanese treasure hunter, Katayama Mamaito, who was seized in Sulu’s Pangutaran town in July last year.

The group also seized two fishermen, Renato Panisales and Wennie Ferrer – all employees of the Mega Fishing Corporation in Zamboanga City - at sea in March. Their companion, Jonald Ocsimar, was freed in July after his family paid P300,000 ransom.

Just last month, Abu Sayyaf militants snatched a government midwife, Evangeline Taverisma, 55, in Tagbak village on Indanan town. She was on her way to report for work when seized by gunmen whose leader was identified as Nasir Timbang.

Another faction of the Abu Sayyaf group is also holding a US woman, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, and her son Kevin Eric Lunsmann, 14, including a Filipino nephew Romnick Jackaria, 19, after snatching them from a beach house on Tictabon Island in Zamboanga City.

The hostages are believed to be in Basilan Island, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)

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