From the Philippine Star (Feb 7): Senior MNLF official denies 3 foreigners rescued
Habib Mujahab Hashim, member of the MNLF central committee and chairman of
the Islamic Command Council (ICC), also denied that the Moro group has a
spokesperson named Emmanuel Fontanilla.
In an interview with radio dzMM on Wednesday, Fontanilla claimed that MNLF
fighters who clashed with ASG members in the jungles of Patikul have rescued two
Swiss nationals and a Dutch national.
Fontanilla also claimed that 23 ASG members have been killed in the fighting
and six more bandits are in the MNLF's custody.
“Hopefully it is true, but there is no such report of rescued foreign
captives by the MNLF forces under Ustadz Habier Malik,” Hashim said.
Persistent information from the police and military disclosed that five
foreigners are being held by the ASG in Sulu, including Europeans Elwold Horn
from Holland and Lorenzo Vinceguerre of Switzerland, Australian Warren Richard
Rodwell, Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani, and Japanese Toshio Ito.
Horn and Vinceguerre, who are both wild bird watchers, were taken on Feb. 1,
2012 in Tawi-Tawi; Rodwell was seized from his house in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay
on Dec. 5, 2011; Atyani and his two Filipino companions were held last June
2012; and Toshio was taken on July 2010.
Atyani’s two companions Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela were freed by the
Abu Sayyaf last Saturday night, but the MNLF failed to secure Atyani.
Hashim said the forces of Malik are still in the jungles in Patikul waiting
for the possible resumption of assault against the ASG.
“We hope hostages are freed so that the tension between the two forces will
ease down,” Hashim said.
He said residents have not also returned from their houses in the area
because of the brewing tension and fear of the resumption of fighting.
Earlier reports said that the ASG has split into smaller groups to divide the
attention of the MNLF forces.