Govt rejects repeated demand of Abu for Sulu troop pullout

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Authorities rejected Sunday fresh demands by the Abu Sayyaf to pull out security forces in the southern island of Sulu where the terrorist group is still holding captive two more Red Cross workers.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, head of the government task force negotiating for the release of the hostages, rejected the demand for security forces to pull out, saying: “We will not move from our locations.”

Tan, who declared a state of emergency in Sulu, has ordered a crackdown on suspected supporters of the Abu Sayyaf. “We will continue our crackdown on suspected supporters of the Abu Sayyaf, those who give them aid. We will file charges against them,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf renewed threats to behead Swiss Andreas Notter, 38, and Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, if troops and policemen would not pull out from at least five locations near the terrorist stronghold in Sulu.

The threat to behead the hostages came a day after the Abu Sayyaf freed Mary Jean Lacaba on April 2, but there were reports that a huge ransom was paid in exchange for her freedom.

The Abu Sayyaf released Lacaba to Sulu Vide Gov. Nur-Ana Sahidulla who said the aid worker was freed without ransom.

Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross, said the release came through the efforts of Sulu Reps. Yusop Jikiri and Munir Arbison and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman.

The trio was kidnapped Jan. 15 in Patikul town where they had inspected a humanitarian project.

Authorities have already invited more than two dozen people, including policemen and village officials, for investigation to find out if they have links with the Abu Sayyaf.

Tan said some of these suspects had been brought from Sulu to Zamboanga City in Mindanao for formal investigation, adding that more would be invited for questioning.

Gordon said the military and police should pull out from Sulu to save the lives of the captives. He said the fate of the remaining hostage wos now in the hands of President Gloria Arroyo who order the withdrawal of security forces in the province.

But Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro also rejected demands by the Abu Sayyaf for a withdrawal of military forces in Sulu. He said the fate of the hostages is with the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed by Manila for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom the past years. Authorities said some Jemaah Islamiya terrorists are among those holding the two aid workers.

Al Jacinto, GMANews.TV

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 12:45 am  Comments Off on Govt rejects repeated demand of Abu for Sulu troop pullout  
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