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Negotiations to free kidnap victims ongoing

/ 08:23 PM July 18, 2011

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Negotiations were ongoing to secure the safe release of two Americans and their Filipino relative who were kidnapped here last week, a regional police official said on Monday.

Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, refused to give details to reporters, but said Gerfa Lunsmann and her son Kevin, and Romnick Jackaria were not being held in Basilan as earlier reported.

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“It would be impossible for the victims to be in Basilan. We have some indications that the Lunsmanns are being kept somewhere in Zamboanga Peninsula,” Khu said.

The police official identified those behind the July 12 kidnapping of the three as members of the Alawi gang led by Waning Abdusallam. He tagged them as members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Special Operations Group (MILF-SOG).

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Khu said the MILF-SOG was operating in the areas of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur and some parts of Zamboanga del Norte.

Abdusallam is a brother of Akkidin, alias Kumander Kiddie, who was tagged in the kidnapping of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missionaries in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, in 2007.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF’s peace panel, told the Inquirer by phone that the information provided by the police was “pure speculative report.”

“It’s hearsay,” Iqbal said, stressing that the MILF is not engaged in kidnapping. “It’s against our policy and it’s against Islam,” he said.

Abdusallam, according to Iqbal, is not an MILF member. “As far as the MILF leadership is concerned, we don’t have any member with that name,” he said.

Iqbal said the MILF was doing its part of the agreement with the government to help resolve criminal cases by “isolating” kidnap gangs in its territories.

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TAGS: Americans, investigation, Justice, Kidnapping, Mindanao, Police, ransom, Regions, War on terror
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