100 families displaced by hostage crisis

MANILA, Philippines — A 100 families in Sulu were in two temporary homes set up in the coastal area of the province anticipating possible clashes between soldiers and Abu Sayyaf before the release of one of the three International Committee of the Red Cross workers held captive since January.

Engineer Mary Jean Lacaba was released Thursday night to Sulu local officials.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said that displaced families were staying in evacuation centers in Indanan and Jolo where about 70 tents and several food packs have been made available by the provincial social welfare and development.

Adriano Fuego, director of the Office of the Civil Defense for Zamboanga, said the two evacuation centers were located in Poblacion, Indanan and Datu Bato in Jolo.

The temporary homes were set up to accept fleeing residents from five towns in Sulu where firefights were feared following the repositioning of troops to known lairs of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers, before Lacaba was released.

But the military appealed to the public on Thursday to stop circulating text messages and unverified reports concerning the crisis that might spawn panic and fear among residents.

Such text messages include alleged reports that one of the hostages or all of them were already dead, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, appointed hostage crisis spokesman based in Jolo, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone on Thursday, hours before Lacaba was released.

“Instead, we enjoin prayer for the safety of the ICRC kidnap victims,” he said.

He added that the military was still in a “state of readiness” awaiting the result of the continuing negotiations between Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan and the kidnappers for the safe release of all hostages.

Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni were still being held by the Abu Sayyaf as of Thursday night.

Jocelyn Uy, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 11:02 pm  Comments Off on 100 families displaced by hostage crisis  
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