Abu Sayyaf moves deadline to 5 p.m. Tuesday

ZAMBOANGA CITY— The Abu Sayyaf extended the deadline for the total pull-out of government troops from several villages in Sulu to 5 p.m. Tuesday, a source involved in the ground operations told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

The informant said the extension was issued after Sulu Vice Governor Nur Anna Sahidulla and Sulu Representative Yusop Jikiri met with Doctor Abu, another Abu Sayyaf leader on the island-province.

“Ang sabi ni Doc Abu, wala na silang magagawa dahil at 5 p.m., kapag walang ma pull-out na tropa, itutuloy nila sa 5 p.m. ang pugutan (Doc Abu says that they cannot do anything but to push through with the beheading at 5 p.m. if military troops are not pulled out,” said the source, who requested anonymity for having no authority to speak on the matter.

The Abu Sayyaf earlier threatened to behead one of their three hostages — all workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross — if military troops were not pulled out from several Sulu villages 2 p.m. Tuesday. The Arroyo government refused to comply and leave the villages at the mercy of the Abu Sayyaf. The 2 p.m. deadline lapsed and no word was received from the Islamic extremist group.

But while Marine soldiers and policemen were moving back near the Abu Sayyaf’s lair in Indanan, the source said the Abu Sayyaf appeared to be preparing for the worst too.

“Actually may movement na ang mga Abu Sayyaf, paakyat na sila sa Bud Tumatangis (Actually, the Abu Sayyaf troops have been moving upward to Bud Tumatangis),” he said by phone.

Governor Abdusakur Tan said he was not aware of the extension of the deadline, saying they were closely monitoring the situation.

Tan also said there has been no declaration of a state of emergency as of this posting.

“We are not losing hope here, let’s cross all our fingers. Wala pa tayong natatanggap na balita sa sinuman sa tatlong bihag, we just hope nothing bad will happen to them (We have not received news on any of the three hostages),” he said.

Tan said while the deadlock was prevailing, the government was doing its best to secure the hostages.

Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Swiss Andreas Notter were kidnapped on January 15, after they inspected a water sanitation project at the Sulu provincial jail.

Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 4:52 pm  Comments Off on Abu Sayyaf moves deadline to 5 p.m. Tuesday  
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