Two Muslim teenagers arrested for Philippine news crew kidnapping

Other News Materials 21 July 2008 08:58 (UTC +04:00)

Two Muslim teenagers were arrested in the southern Philippines for allegedly being involved in the kidnapping of a television news crew last month, a Marine Corps spokesman said Monday, dpa reported.

The suspects, aged 18 and 14, were apprehended on Friday at a marines checkpoint in Patikul town on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said.

Arevalo said military intelligence operatives identified the teenagers as members of the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels who abducted ABS-CBN Television news anchor Ces Drilon, her two cameramen and a Muslim professor on June 8.

At least one of the teenagers was also filmed by one of Drilon's cameramen, who clandestinely took footage during their captivity, he added.

All the hostages were freed unharmed after a 25-million-peso (555,000 dollar) ransom was allegedly paid.

Police filed kidnapping charges against the mayor of Indanan town, Alvarez Isnaji, and his son for allegedly masterminding the abduction despite their help in the negotiations for the release of Drilon and the other hostages.

Drilon's kidnapping sparked a wave of abductions by Abu Sayyaf rebels in the nearby Basilan province, another stronghold of the guerrilla group.

On Sunday, rebels kidnapped three passengers of a mini-bus in Tuburan town in Basilan and threatened to abduct Christians in the province unless they converted to Islam, regional police commander Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao said.

Goltiao, said security forces were dispatched to track down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages.

The latest kidnapping came just days after two village officials were rescued from their Abu Sayyaf captors in Tuburan town. Earlier in the month, four electric cooperative workers were freed after two weeks in captivity, allegedly in exchange for ransom.

Aside from being responsible for a number of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom cases in the southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf has also been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country.