Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do not travel to Mindanao, Australia advices citizens

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 27): Do not travel to Mindanao, Australia advices citizens

Australia on Thursday warned its citizens against travelling to Mindanao following the release of a video of kidnapped Sydney adventurer Warren Rodwell, who is being held by al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines. Rodwell was kidnapped by gunmen disguised as policemen on December 5, 2011 in his seaside home in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said Rodwell is being held in Basilan province off Zamboanga City and that efforts are going on to rescue the former soldier. “Our efforts to locate Warren Rodwell are continuing, but the kidnappers have been constantly moving from one location to another and that is our problem now. He is also being used by the Abu Sayyaf as human shield and the safety of Warren is our top concern also,” Cruz told the Mindanao Examiner. In the latest video clip, Rodwell, wearing a black sweat shirt appeared cleanly shaven, but frail and holding a copy of a newspaper dated December 16, 2012.

“The Australian travel advice for the Philippines continues to recommend no travel in central or western Mindanao and warns of the danger of kidnapping in that area,” Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement. Carr said the prolonged captivity of Rodwell remains a major concern. “The Philippines Government has the lead in response to this case and is devoting significant resources to securing Mr Rodwell's release. The Australian Government is assisting Philippines authorities where appropriate. We are also in regular communication with Mr Rodwell's family. It would not be helpful to Mr Rodwell to comment further,” he said.

Rodwell, in his 2 minute video clip, said: “I have been held prisoner, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Muslim terrorist group for over one year, actually 54 weeks today. I was kidnapped on December 5, 2012. This video clip today is to say that I am live. I am waiting to be released. I have no idea what’s going on outside. I am just kept, held prisoner in isolation.” “Again, I am alive. It’s 378 days I think, something like that. This newspaper is from the Philippines. If any, honestly and if there is some negotiation I do not get any information and the people around me don’t normally speak English and I understand something is happening but I don’t know when. I do not expect to be released before the year 2013 at the earliest. I personally hold no hope at all for being release. I do not trust the Abu Sayyaf, I do not trust the Australian government. I just don’t trust anyone, personally, I don’t care.”

The Abu Sayyaf has demanded $2 million ransom for Rodwell’s safe release, but his Filipina wife, Miraflor Gutang, said they cannot afford to pay the kidnappers.

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