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Find Jordanian, Sulu cops told

/ 08:26 PM June 25, 2012

Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani. AP

Police forces have been dispatched to locate a Jordanian journalist and his two Filipino crew being held by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.

Chief Superintendent Mario Avenido, police chief for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that he fielded his men right after Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo confirmed that Baker Atyani, bureau chief of the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya News Network, and Filipinos Ramelito Vela and Rolando Letrero of the Taguig City-based SFX, were with the Abu Sayyaf.

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Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, police chief for Sulu, was directed to “supervise the overall operations to locate and secure them.”

President Benigno Aquino Aquino on Monday blamed Atyani for his predicament when he spoke to reporters after he led the mass oath-taking of new Liberal Party members here at the gym of Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet.

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Mr. Aquino said he was being briefed daily on the case, but admitted that recent pieces of information were “confusing.”

“I want to repeat: It shouldn’t have happened if the guy had not misled the appropriate authorities. That is the issue. And he has caused us damage the same but he will undergo a process to explain  these things,” the President said.

He was referring to Atyani’s decision not to inform authorities that he would interview the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo.

Last week, the Jordanian foreign ministry said Atyani was being held hostage. Robredo confirmed this after he spoke to the wife of one of the two Filipinos seeking help from their companies so they could be released by the Abu Sayyaf.

Chief Superintendent Manuel Barcena, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, said a crisis management committee had been activated, “meaning all resources and personnel are mobilized to locate them and find out how we can help” the hostages.

Still, Barcena maintained that Atyani, Vela and Letrero were not kidnapped. “They were prevented to leave the Abu Sayyaf camp after the interview and since they are there for more than three days now, it’s already serious illegal detention,” he said.

Freyra, on the other hand, said police “spotters” and civilian volunteers were sent to the area to validate the location of the victims and their captors. “They saw Atyani but failed to see the two Filipinos. Probably, the two were roaming around taking video or answering the call of nature,” he said.

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Refusing to give more details, Freyra denied reports that Atyani and the two Filipinos had been separated by their captors. “What we got from the spotters was that they saw the Jordanian at the time,” he said.

Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said a rescue operation had yet to be launched, “but we know their exact location.”

On Sunday, Robredo said Atyani’s group was with Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Atyani was supposed to meet with Yasser Igasan, the alleged new leader of the Abu Sayyaf in the province, on June 12, but he and his crew failed to return since. Igasan is a “subleader” of Sahiron, Robredo said. Reports from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, and Christine O. Avendaño in Benguet

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Baker Atyani, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Joint Task Force Sulu
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