Abu Sayyaf snatches 9-year-old boy in Jolo, Sulu—police report
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched yet another victim on Tuesday afternoon – this time a child in downtown Jolo – as soldiers were hunting them down in Sulu’s hinterlands.
Senior Supt. Noel Armilla, officer-in-charge of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police office, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that a 9-year-old boy “was taken by two unidentified suspects riding on a motorcycle” around 5 p.m.
Armilla said the boy, identified as Eljon Esteven Marzo, a third grader at the Notre Dame of Jolo, was buying some items from a sari-sari (variety) store in Sitio Barrio in Barangay (the village of) Asturias when kidnapped.
The kidnappers reportedly fled in the direction of Indanan town.
“Upon receiving the information, elements of the Indanan and Jolo police offices, and the military gave a chase up to the vicinity of Indanan and the adjacent area of Patikul, but (they) lost track of the fleeing abductors aboard a single motorcycle,” Armilla said.
Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, described the victim as a nephew of a government official.
According to Arrojado, the military believes the kidnappers are members of the Abu Sayyaf.
The military has heightened military operation against the bandit group in Sulu since late 2014 and deployed hundreds of fresh troops on the island-province.
But the Abu Sayyaf appears to be defiant as ever, even with the large-scale military operation launched against it.
On December 30, Abu Sayyaf bandits even ambushed a platoon of Scout Rangers in Patikul town.
Arrojado said none of the soldiers were harmed in the ambush perpetrated by “neophyte” Abu Sayyaf members – composed mainly of “sons of slain Abu Sayyaf gunmen.”
A week before the ambush, the Abu Sayyaf also attempted to set off an explosion in Jolo.
Government security forces foiled what could have been another bloody day in Sulu with the discovery of the powerful improvised explosive device at the park there, Arrojado said.
He said the improvised explosive device could be part of the Abu Sayyaf’s efforts to divert the military’s attention from the operation it has been conducting in the hinterlands of the province – which were aimed at freeing the remaining Abu Sayyaf captives and to diminish the bandit group’s capability.
As of Wednesday (Jan. 7), several foreign hostages were still in Abu Sayyaf captivity. They included European birdwatcher Ewold Horn, Chinese national Yahong Tan, and Malaysian Kons Zakiah Aleip.
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