DILG chief: Hostaged ICRC personnel alive and well

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 and is filed under Defense, Feature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines/ BP Garcia–Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno announced that all of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) personnel held captives by the Abu Sayyaf bandits are alive and well.

This was the announcement of Puno in a press conference upon his arrival Wednesday afternoon in this city from Jolo, Sulu where he met with top military and police officials as well as the Task Force ICRC headed by Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan created to address the kidnapping problem.

“The hostages are safe. They are confirmed to be alive and well,” Puno said.

“We have a high level of certainty that they (hostages) are still alive,” Puno added but refused to elaborate how they obtained the confirmation.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits headed by Al-Bader Parad have threatened to behead one of the three hostages if there will be no total pullout of military troops in Sulu by 2 p.m. of Tuesday.

This prompted Tan to declare a state of emergency in the entire province and ordered the troops to return to their respective positions in Indanan town where they were pulled out last week.

In just two hours, Puno said the troops that were pulled out last Saturday were back to their original position surrounding the lair of the Abu Sayyaf holding hostage the ICRC personnel in Indanan town.

The ICRC personnel namely Andreas Notter, a Swiss National, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino engineer Mary Jean Lacaba were seized last January 15 after they inspected a water project at the Sulu provincial jail in Patikul town.

Puno disclosed that Abu Sayyaf bandits’ emissaries went to Tan Tuesday and discussed possible ways on how to find peaceful solution to end the hostage crisis.

He however said it was not known whether the emissaries are chosen by the bandits who are holding hostages the ICRC personnel or on a voluntary basis.

He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits have not left the area where they are holed out together with the hostages in Indanan even though the troops were pulled out since they are near a source of potable water.

Since Tuesday afternoon, Puno said the Abu Sayyaf bandits have maintained “radio silence” as they have not called anyone to talk concerning the fate of the hostages.

He viewed the move of the bandits as a tactic to avoid detection from the government forces citing the latest communication they received was through text message early Tuesday.

Puno said that based on information they gathered, Parad was confirmed to have been wounded in one of the recent clashes that took place in the town of Indanan.

Puno said the person who claimed to be Parad and talked to Senator Richard Gordon was Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumdail alias Dr. Abu Pula.

He said they will continue to find for peaceful settlement to end the hostage crisis.

He said the state of emergency declared by Tan will remain in place until such time it is needed to ensure the stability of peace and order in Sulu. (BP Garcia, The PhilSouth Angle)

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