From the Global Times (Jul 31): Kidnapped Philippine researcher released by Abu Sayyaf gunmen
Abu Sayyaf rebels freed unharmed its male captive in Sulu province of southern Philippines on Wednesday dawn, following alleged payment of ransom, police said.
The 56-year-old Alrashid Maha Rojas, a clerk of the Islamic Study Center in Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), was released by the Abu Sayyaf members led by Hatib Susukan at 3 a.m. Wednesday in the downtown of Jolo.
The victim was abducted on June 22 in his residence in Campo Islam village in Zamboanga and later was brought to Sulu.
Police authorities who were alerted of the presence of the Rojas immediately recovered the victim and brought him to the police camp for debriefing and provided with medical check-up.
The 380-strong Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), founded in the early 1990s, is a violent Muslim terrorist group operating in southern Philippines. The ASG engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, beheadings, assassinations, and extortion.
“Just few minutes after the MILF forces under the 108th Base Command broke their Ramadhan Fasting, at around 6:14pm, the Philippine Army troops fired mortars which only stopped at around 10pm,” report from the field said.
While the government soldiers were bombarding the MILF forces the troops of the MNLF started their ground attacks against the said MILF forces.
But the MILF forces did not retaliate. Their ground commander said, in a text message, “we are fully committed to the ceasefire accord between the government and MILF forces.”
Scores of attacks by combined forces of the MNLF and 602nd Brigade had been conducted against the MILF since May this year.
Efforts to resolve the problem in Matalam from many sectors and most especially by the provincial government of Matalam have been continuing but the 602nd Brigade and the MNLF had not been cooperating so that these efforts will easily succeed.
The MILF Ceasefire Committee had repeatedly asked its counterpart with the government to stop the involvement of the 602nd Brigade as they have been blatantly violating the ceasefire accord.
In many instances, high ranking government officials that include no less than the Philippine President His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III had been saying that the MILF that includes its forces is now a partner of the government. Unfortunately, this is not the position of the 602nd Brigade Commander Gen Tomaro.
“While we are strongly supporting the government through the established ceasefire especially in delivering the gains and promises of peace in view of the breakthroughs on the GPH – MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the strong pronouncements of President Aquino during the last State of the Nation Address, the government forces are attacking the MILF forces in Matalam,” the MILF CCCH said.
Instead of attacking the MILF forces, the 602nd Brigade should help in the efforts to resolve the problem in Matalam, said the MILF CCCH, adding “this is the best thing to do for us being partners.”