Puno meets with ‘crisis’ officials

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno met with local officials in Jolo, Sulu, starting 10 a.m. on Wednesday, to discuss the government’s moves to secure the safe release of three International Committee of the Red Cross workers held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group.

Residents in Indanan town, near the camp where the Abu Sayyaf are believed to hold the captives, are being evacuated starting late Tuesday, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, as the government mulls its military and non-military options to protect the lives of the ICRC hostages.

The provincial government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, shortly after the first Abu Sayyaf deadline at 2 p.m. for total military pullout from several villages in Sulu, lapsed.

The bandit group had threatened to behead one of the hostages if their demand was not met.

Government officials later learned that the Abu Sayyaf did not execute any of the hostages at 2 p.m. and even at 5 p.m., the second deadline they alleged to have set.

Rep. Yusop Jikiri is now in Pasil village leading talks with the Abu Sayyaf, according to government officials who are part of the crisis committee overseeing efforts to save the hostages.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan denied reports that one of the hostages — Swiss Andreas Notter — was shot by the Abu Sayyaf for trying to escape.

Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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Published in: on April 1, 2009 at 11:34 am  Comments Off on Puno meets with ‘crisis’ officials  
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