From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): 5 timber cutters seized; troops launch rescue ops
Pursuit operations by government troops continued in a bid to rescue the remaining hostages from suspected kidnappers in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte, the police reported Thursday.
This, as the kidnappers killed one of the five hostages they seized when pursuing policemen and soldiers caught up with them at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday that triggered a 10-minute firefight at sitio Kabatunayan, Barangay Panabutan, Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.
Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, identified the slain hostage as Mario Rosales alias Mario Ungok, 46, a resident of Barangay San Nicolas, Sirawai.
Galvez said Rosales was positively identified by his employer, Tata Subebe, a resident of Barangay San Vicente, Sirawai town.
Rosales was one of the five timber cutters from San Nicolas, who were reported missing on Monday, March 5.
The four others were the following: Roger Jung-an, 36; Jomar Maglangit, 26; Reymond Purisima, 14; and, Jomar Mantangan, 25 all residents of San Nicolas village, Sirawai.
They went to Sitio Maasum, Barangay San Nicolas on March 3 to cut timber but failed to return home since then.
Galvez said that two days later, the kidnappers have demanded PHP10 million in exchange for the release of the victims.
She said the kidnappers used the cellular phone of one of the five victims and relayed the ransom demand at around 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 5, to Jojo Ebalde, a chainsaw operator and a resident of San Nicolas.
She said the ransom demand was lowered to PHP75,000 or at PHP15,000 each hostages when the kidnappers made the second call later.
Sirawai Mayor Gamar Janihim convened the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) to find solution to the kidnapping.
Galvez said the CMC was able to identify the leaders of the kidnappers as Jamilon Wahab and Bating Lumiguis, whose group operates in the hinterlands of Sirawai and in nearby areas.
She said the troops recovered a caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle and a caliber .45 pistol with ammunition from Thursday’s clash site in Sitio Kabatunayan, Barangay Panabutan.
She added that around 10 gunmen figured in Thursday’s clash with pursuing policemen and troops from the Army’s 42nd Infantry Battalion.
She disclosed that troops from the Army’s 13th Special Force Company and policemen were deployed as blocking forces in Barangay Riconalla, Siocon, an adjacent town of Sirawai, while pursuit operations in a bid to rescue the remaining four hostages continue.