Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AFP deploys 600 soldiers to pursue kidnappers

By Katherine Evangelista

First Posted 19:16:00 11/11/2009

Filed Under: Acts of terror, Military, Security (general)

MANILA, Philippines – Some 600 soldiers are running after the group that abducted and beheaded a school principal and the kidnapping of four civilians, including two Chinese nationals, in Mindanao, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

In an interview, Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner, Jr. said that roughly 300 soldiers from the 32nd Infantry battalion, a company of Marines and a platoon from the Special Operations Unit of the Marines are running after the kidnappers of Jerry Tan, Michael Tan, Oscar Lu, and Mark Singson.

The four were abducted by gunmen clad in military uniforms who stormed a plywood factory in Sitio (sub-village) Butong, Barangay (village) Townsite, Maluso town, Basilan Monday night.

Meanwhile, around three hundred more Marines are pursuing the perpetrators behind the abduction and beheading of school chief Gabriel Canizares whose severed head was found near a gasoline station in Jolo, Sulu, Monday morning.

Canizares, the principal of Kanagi Elementary School in Patikul, Sulu, was abducted in Jolo last October 19 by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

The military suspects that the Abu Sayyaf group may also be behind the latest abduction but nevertheless, they are not discounting the possibility that other bandit groups may be involved, Brawner said.

Earlier, teachers announced the suspension of classes in public schools following the recovery of Canizares’ head, since they fear that they may be the next target of the bandit groups.

“We cannot blame them for being fearful for their lives but we are assuring our teachers that we are doing our part to ensure that they are secured,” Brawner said.

Meanwhile, Brawner urged the Department of Education and local executives of areas where there are kidnapping incidents to help calm the public amid the surge of kidnapping cases in Mindanao.

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