From the Philippine Star (Dec 9): Dutch taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf still alive – military
The military dismissed yesterday reports that the remaining Abu Sayyaf hostage, Dutchman Ewold Horn, had died due to an ailment.
Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), believed that Horn is still alive and being held by the Abu Sayyaf in the mountains of Patikul.
Horn’s fellow captive Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra made a daring escape after he hacked the bandit that was guarding him in the jungles of Patikul, Sulu last Saturday.
Guerrero said the report that Horn is still alive was also corroborated by Vinciguerra during a debriefing.
“Vinciguerra revealed that Horn was too weak to join him in his escape. No report whatsoever of Horn succumbing to an ailment,” Guerrero said.
Vinciguerra, 49, and Horn were the two European birdwatchers abducted by Abu Sayyaf bandits on Feb. 1, 2012 in Tawi-Tawi.
Also kidnapped was their Filipino guide Ivan Sarenas, who escaped by jumping into the sea as they were being transported by boat to Sulu.
On Saturday, the military reported that Vinciguerra escaped from his captors as security forces were launching offensives against the bandits in the jungles of Patikul.
During the encounter, Vinciguerra reportedly grabbed the machete of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist guarding him.
The Swiss birdwatcher sustained a wound on the left cheek as he and his guard grappled for the machete. Vinciguerra got hold of the machete and hacked the bandit’s neck.
Security forces found Vinciguerra in Barangay Timpook in Patikul, Sulu and brought him to Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City. The Swiss national is now confined in a hospital in Manila.
The military said there were unconfirmed reports that the ailing Horn had died but Vinciguerra insisted that the Dutchman is alive but weak.
“We believe Horn is still alive along with other kidnap victims,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero gave assurance that pursuit operations are continuing to rescue all the remaining hostages of the Abu Sayyaf.
The military said the ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf gave Vinciguerra the opportunity to escape.
Vinciguerra’s escape came more than a month after the Abu Sayyaf released German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek, 74 and Henrite Dielen, 42 in Patikul.
The Abu Sayyaf claimed to have received the full ransom of P250 million but officials did not confirm it.
Okonek and Dielen were kidnapped by the bandits last April on their yacht in Rio Tubattaha off Palawan.
Vinciguerra made his getaway while government forces were firing artillery rounds near the jungle where he was being held in mountainous Patikul town.
Philippine Army scout rangers later found him and escorted him to safety.
Meanwhile, police and military security forces have intensified monitoring operations to intercept Abu Sayyaf militants who might slip into Zamboanga City to escape the military pursuit operations in Basilan and Sulu.
Col. Andrelino Colina, commander of the Joint Task Group Zamboanga (JTGZ), said they were also monitoring possible diversionary attacks of the Abu Sayyaf group, an effort that was previously adopted by the terrorist group to ease military pressure against them.