Pursuit on against Abu Sayyaf after hostage killed

Reports said the militant Abu Sayyaf subgroup under Ben Totoh and a certain AlmujerYadah headed back to Talipao town in Sulu, which is covered by the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1.

Col. Noel D. Beleran, commanding officer of the battalion, told MindaNews via text message that they are still verifying the information on the presence of the Abu Sayyaf subgroup in Talipao.

Mr. Ridsdel, who was senior vice-president and chief executive officer of TVI Resource Development from August 2008 to April 2011 and later served as president of TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., was executed around 3:45 p.m. Monday in the forested vicinity in Lower Sinumaan, Patikul, Sulu, in front of his fellow captives, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstand, 56; Canadian national Robert Hall, 50, and his Filipina partner Teresita Flor.

The four were abducted on Sept. 21 last year from a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal.

The severed head of Mr. Ridsdel was found in front of the municipal town hall in Jolo, Sulu, Monday.

Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan of the Abu Sayyaf had warned in a video posted on YouTube on April 15 that they would kill one of the hostages at 3 p.m. on April 25 if the ransom demand of P300 million was not paid by then. An earlier deadline was set for April 8.

Supt. Julpikar Sitin, Jolo police chief, told MindaNews that at around 7:30 in the evening, a plastic cellophane was thrown by two unidentified individuals riding in tandem towards a group of young men about to play basketball at the corner of Mayor Salih Yusah and Sari Ahmad Isnani streets in Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.

The unidentified riders, described by bystanders as being in their late 20s with long curly hair, were on board a single wave motorcycle, and fled towards the east direction. The police’s attention was immediately called.

Mr. Sitin said Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) found inside the plastic cellophane a Caucasian’s head, which SOCO positively identified as belonging to Mr. Ridsdel.

CONDEMNATION

In a statement, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “outraged” by the news of Mr. Ridsdel’s killing.

“Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers, and this unnecessary death. This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage.

In his statement, Mr. Trudeau also said the Canadian government “is committed to working with the Government of Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice.”

“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Ridsdel. They have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them. Our thoughts are with them as they come to terms with this loss, and I would ask that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time.”

He said Canada’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens and the government “will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.”

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv S. Hataman also issued a statement condemning the crime of the bandit group ASG saying it “is an act against humanity.”

“As a nation, we have to rise against this horrendous act of terrorism. Our faith and our humanity demand that we collectively and strongly condemn this act of terrorism. This incident is tragic and as peace-loving Muslims of Mindanao, as Filipinos tired of senseless deaths and violence, we stand against this,” Mr. Hataman said.

“With heavy hearts, we express our condolences to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel. Our thoughts are with you in this dark moment of sorrow and grief,” he added.

The island-provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are under the ARMM.

About 28 captives are reportedly still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf, 22 of whom are foreigners.

TAWI-TAWI

Meanwhile, the Naval Task Force Tawi-Tawi was in hot pursuit Sunday night of a speedboat with heavily armed men on board, believed to be combat fighters of the ASG at the vicinity of West Tumindao and Sipangkot Islands in Tawi-Tawi province.

As this developed, the naval unit commander said borders down south of the Philippines have increasingly become a hot security area in the past four weeks.

The security for the borders is intended not only to safeguard the country’s patrimonial interests, but also to secure traders from neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia doing business with Filipino traders within the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi archipelagic waters, Commander Earl Reyes told MindaNews.

“The exchange of fire last night was around West Tumindao, Sipangkot and Omapoy Islands, all in Tawi-Tawi,” Mr. Reyes said on Monday, adding that trading relations between Malaysia and the Philippines are severely affected due to the harassment done by the ASG on Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino traders.

Malaysian authorities have tightened border entry laws following the abduction of four Malaysian crew members of a tugboat near Pulau Ligitan, Semporna, Sabah on April 1.

The military earlier reported that the four Malaysian hostages were sighted on April 13 at the vicinity of Sitio Tambuang in Mampalam, Talipao, Sulu, with more or less 50 armed members of the ASG led by sub-leader Angah Adji and selected armed followers of ASG senior leader Yasser Igassan and Idang Susukan.

In his briefing yesterday, Col. Noel J. Detoyato, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said “continuous military and police operations are still being conducted” against the bandits and assured that operations are “focused” to ensure the safety of the remaining hostages.

About their condition, Mr. Detoyato said: “So far, [our] information [is] usable [to the] operating troops, [and] as to the status, the last [we saw] was [what the kidnappers posted on video].”

Source: B World Online