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Southeast Asia
Abu Sayyaf rejects MNLF appeal to free foreign captives
2013-01-17
Abu Sayyaf terrorists rebels holding at least 5 kidnapped foreigners have turned down demands by a former Muslim terrorist rebel group to free their hostages being held in the southern Philippines.

Officials said a senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Habier Malik, tried to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf for the freedom of the captives in the hinterlands of Sulu Island.

Army Col. Rodrigo, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said, "As far as we know, the Abu Sayyaf has rejected the MNLF efforts to secure the release of the hostages, not without ransoms."

Rodrigo said Malik's group has returned to their bases. He said, "The efforts of the MNLF to secure the freedom of the hostages are unilateral on their part and have the permission of the local government officials and military commanders on the ground. But our efforts are also continuing to safely recover all the victims."

Police said the Abu Sayyaf has been holding a Japanese treasure hunter, Toshio Ito, 66, since 2010. He was last reported to have been helping the rebel group in cooking food for them and moves around freely. Aside from the Japanese man, the Abu Sayyaf is also holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, 43, and his two Filipino assistants Rolando Letrero, 22, and Ramelito Vela, 39.

Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, the Sulu police chief, said the trio came to Sulu province in June last year to secretly film the Abu Sayyaf for a documentary on Al Arabiya News Channel. Before his detention, Atyani has had previously visited the province in secrecy to interview terrorist leaders, according to the Philippine military.

The military previously said it would arrest Atyani for espionage if he were released by the Abu Sayyaf. Atyani had also clandestinely interviewed Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks.

Freyra said two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from the Netherlands; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, kidnapped in February his year in Tawi-Tawi province had been brought to Sulu.

In an interview he said, "As long as the MNLF (members) don't put the law in their own hands or violate the law in pursuance of their efforts, I don't see any problem. We welcome all efforts in securing the safe release of the hostages."

Police in Tawi-Tawi said the duo was allegedly taken by members of the MNLF. Another group of kidnappers are also holding a Malaysian fish trader Pang Choon Pong, who was taken in October 2011 in Tawi-Tawi, but his fate is unknown.

In November last year, Malaysian officials said two of its nationals were seized by five gunmen disguised as policemen from a palm oil plantation in Sabah. It said the two were both working for the plantation and had been taken at gunpoint. Their companions said the gunmen spoke in Malayu and Tausug, a dialect commonly used in the southern provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

Abu Sayyaf terrorists rebels are also holding Australian adventurer, Warren Rodwell, a former soldier, who was seized in the seaside town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province in December 2011. The terrorists rebels originally demanded $1 million ransom for the release of Rodwell, but eventually lowered this to $460,000.

It is known what ransoms the Abu Sayyaf is asking for the remaining captives, who are being held by different rebel commanders.
Posted by:ryuge

#1  IMO 'tis a direct open challenge by Abu Sayyaf to the new Bangsamoro entity + Manila, MILF peace deal.
Posted by: JosephMendiola   2013-01-17 00:45  

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