Abu Sayyaf kidnaps over 200 since 2003 in Philippines: document
The Abu Sayyaf group has kidnapped at least 200 victims since 2003 in over 90 incidents including kidnapping of three Red Cross workers in the southern Philippines, according to a military document released on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
The document shows that the Abu Sayyaf got over 22 million pesos (some 440,000 U.S. dollars) of ransom in its kidnappings in the southern province of Sulu alone, 20 million pesos (400,000 dollars) of which was paid for the freedom of television reporter Ces Drillon and her crew last year.
Seventy-three of the victims were seized last year and this year in Western Mindanao, excluding Basilan, in 43 incidents perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf, some of them done jointly with other rebels. Western Mindanao is composed of the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Basilan.
The document did not include the kidnapping of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi who was seized in Zamboanga Sibugay in June 2007 and released a month later. Fourteen Marine soldiers died, 10 of them beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf, while searching for the priest in Basilan.
In Basilan, the report said that 33 victims and a family ( specific number unknown) were seized from 2003 to present in 17 incidents. Basilan, along with Sulu, is a known bailiwick province of the Abu Sayyaf.
In Sulu, 54 victims were accounted in 25 kidnapping incidents since 2003, including the kidnapping of Drillon, her two crew members and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo in June last year. The report said Drillon and her group were released by their Abu Sayyaf captors weeks later, after the payment of 20 million pesos.
On Jan. 15, the group kidnapped the three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, namely, Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, who was released last Thursday; Swiss Andreas Notter, and Eugenio Vagni. The kidnappers are reportedly demanding a 5 million-dollar ransom, the document said.
Notter and Vagni are still being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. The Philippine authorities have vowed to secure the safe release of the two aid workers.