Don: Hostages farmed out to different Abu Sayyaf groups

KOTA KINABALU: Abu Sayyaf gunmen who are holed up in their southern Philippines island of Jolo stronghold are “cooperating” among themselves in guarding their 25 captives, which includes four Malaysians.

The gunmen have farmed out their hostages to different groups headed by various sub-commanders, Jolo-based anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said.

He said the groups of gunmen having captives would farm out some of them to those that did not have any and they would later partake in the “bed and lodging”.

In the Philippines, “bed and lodging” refers to ransom payments for the release of those abducted.

“That is why there are many so-called Abu Sayyaf groups, but they are all in cahoots with each other,” Prof Dinampo said.

However, he said the identity of the group, which was holding the four Malaysian sailors abducted from a tugboat in waters off Pulau Ligitan near Semporna on April 1, remained unclear.

This was because the group remained isolated at the mountainous hinterlands of Patikul in Jolo, he added.

It was reported that the abduction of the four Malaysians was carried out by a leader known as Apo Mike.

Apart from the four Malaysians, the other captives included 10 Indonesian tugboat crew members who were abducted on March 28.

It is not known if the gunmen have issued demands for board and lodging payments for the captives.

However, the gunmen had demanded US$21mil (RM82mil) for Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall as well as Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad who were abducted from Samal Island last September.

Prof Dinampo said other Abu Sayyaf captives included a Dutch national, six Filipinos and a Japanese who had been languishing in Jolo for more than three years.

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