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Sayyaf terrorists escape massive military ops with kidnapped Aussie adventurer

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 12, 2012) – Philippine authorities said kidnapped Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell was taken to the southern province of Sulu after escaping a massive military rescue operation in Basilan province.

Rdowell, 53, was kidnapped on December 5 from his seaside home in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay and is being held by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

The kidnappers demanded $2 million from his Filipino family in exchange for his freedom. Rodwell married a Filipina, Miraflor Gutang, 27, in June last year in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Ipil town after she met her through the internet.

“We have received intelligence reports that kidnapped victim Warren Rodwell was taken by his captors in Sulu province where he is being held by another Abu Sayyaf group,” Basilan police chief, Senior Superintendent Alexis Lineses, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Filipino authorities earlier reported that Rodwell was being held by a notorious terrorist commander Puruji Indama in Basilan province after five gunmen disguised as policemen snatched him in Ipil.

The Abu Sayyaf has sent four photographs and a video of Rodwell appealing to Australian and Filipino government to work for his safe release.

“To my family please do whatever to raise the two million US dollars they are asking for my release as soon as possible. To the government, to the Filipino government especially the government of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rommel, I’m appealing to you please help me to coordinate with my family to raise to whatever money is being asked.”

“To the Australian embassy here in the Philippines, this is your constituent appealing for his life and safety. Please help facilitate to give the group the demand. Yes, I was former army of my country but it is differently particularly the terrain. The only solution to ensure my safety is to go with whatever they need. If I’m given my last wish, my last wish is to please help me out of here alive please Madame Ambassador,” the distressed Rodwell said in the video. 

Lineses said military intelligence reports also suggested that Rodwell was spirited out from Basilan’s Sumisip town by boat to Sulu over the weekend.

One police report said the kidnappers, headed by Radzmier Alih, landed on the coastal village of Lumapid in Talipao town is now being held by Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Lineses said they are still verifying the reports. “We have to check the veracity of these reports carefully,” he said.

Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Rommel Jalosjos has imposed a news blackout on the kidnapping. Rodwell’s captors have at least phoned Jalosjos twice to start negotiation for the release of the former Australian soldier. But the Australian embassy in Manila wanted a professional negotiator to hold talks with the kidnappers for Rodwell’s freedom.

Manila and Canberra rejected the payment of ransom to the Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled South. 

“The Philippine government has a strict no-ransom policy and will not negotiate with terrorists,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command which is helping in the rescue of Rodwell.

Cabangbang said the rescue operation is continuing to locate Rodwell. “Our operation is continuing and we will not stop until the hostage is recovered safely,” he said.

Regional army chief, Major General Noel Coballes said the Abu Sayyaf is also blamed for the July 2011 kidnappings of a US woman Gerfa Lunsmann and her son Kevin Eric, and a Filipino nephew Romnick Jakaria in Zamboanga City. The trio was brought to Basilan and eventually freed later last year after the family paid a huge ransom. (Mindanao Examiner)
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Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:16:41 PM
The Mindanao Examiner
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