Abu Sayyaf frees social worker

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Abu Sayyaf extremists on Thursday evening freed a Basilan social worker they snatched and held for more than 48 hours, but no ransom money had changed hands, the Sumisip police reported Friday.

Senior Inspector Allan Benasing, Sumisip police chief, said another kidnap victim still remains with the Abu Sayyaf, which was insisting on payment of P1 million in ransom.

Benasing said Jennily Luna Enpera, who works under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s conditional cash transfer program, was released in Barangay Cabengbeng after local officials  intervened and made an appeal to the bandit group.

Enpera was working in Barangay Ulitan, also in Sumisip, on May 21 when she was  abducted by Abu Sayyaf extremists.

“Our local officials appealed for her freedom,” Benasing said.

But Benasing said the Abu Sayyaf was still holding Lucio Gonzales, skipper of a fishing boat, who was kidnapped off Basilan earlier this week. Gonzales’ vessel was passing close to the coast of Basilan when some 15 Abu Sayyaf bandits intercepted it.

Benasing would not say who the  Abu Sayyaf was negotiating with for Gonzales’ release but he disclosed that police were also exerting efforts to search for and rescue the victim.

The Abu Sayyaf passes itself off as an Islamist group but since 1990, it has become notorious for kidnappings, bomb attacks and other terrorist activities.

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