Abu Sayyaf Still Have 31 Hostages, Including Seven Indonesians

Members of Abu Sayyaf group.

 

Manila, Philippines, 04 Jumail Akhir 1438/03 March 2017 (MINA) – The Abu Sayyaf group that beheaded German hostage Juergen Kantner last Sunday is still holding 31 foreign and local hostages, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Thursday.

Director Arsenio Andolong, chief of the DND’s Public Affairs Service, said the bandits are still holding 12 Vietnamese, seven Indonesians, five Malaysians, a Dutchman and six Filipinos as hostages.

Andolong stressed military operations in rescuing the remaining hostages are being hampered by the support of civilian communities that the bandits have already established.

He said a good number of civilians and some dubious personalities in the province have been providing help to the bandits for financial considerations.

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The military has deployed thousands of troops in the Abu Sayyaf strongholds of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo islands, yet despite air and ground offensives, the bandit group’s piracy and kidnappings continue unabated.

The bandits are entrenched in local communities, complicating operations by a military that is wary of incurring civilian casualties.

It is common knowledge that part of the hundreds of million in ransom money that the bandits have amassed from their criminal activities are being used by the group to buy the support and loyalty of civilians in the villages as well as key personalities in the province for protection.

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Without this unholy alliance, the bandits would have long been decimated by the 14 battalions of soldiers deployed to track them down and rescue the hostages.

“Without going into details, they (Abu Sayyaf) have support structures among the public and this has to be addressed,” Philstar quoted Andolong as saying.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to implement a different approach to address the prevailing alliance between civilians and the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Without elaborating, Andolong said the military actions against the bandits will henceforth be different. (T/RS05/RS01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)