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Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda abduct Philippine TV reporter and her crew

Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda abduct Philippine TV reporter and her crew
Looking for militants: File photo shows heavily armed Philippine Coast Guard commandos during an anti-terrorism exercise in Manila Bay. Negotiations have begun with the Muslim extremist kidnappers of a prominent Philippines television journalist and her crew in the southern island of Jolo.Photo: AFP/File/Jay Directo

One of the Philippines' top TV reporters and her two assistants have been abducted, the ABS-CBN network said on Wednesday, after the team went missing on an island that is a hotbed of Islamic radicals linked to Al-Qaeda.

The country's largest television network said that Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, and assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama had been abducted for ransom on Jolo island. The crew has been missing since Sunday.

No ransom demand has been made public, but unconfirmed reports say the kidnappers are asking for between 227,000 and 454,000 dollars for their release.

ABS-CBN news head Maria Ressa provided the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) with an official statement confirming that Drilon, Encarnacion, and Valderama had disappeared.

Armed men seized the three journalists from a car in Maimbung town on Jolo island Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press. The news team had arrived Saturday to cover an event at the invitation of Professor Octavio Dinampo of Mindanao State University, news reports said.

One local press report said Dinampo was also missing. The Mindanao People’s Caucus released a statement condemning the abduction of Dinampo, the chair of their organisation, who they described as a peace advocate, according to the website of regional weekly newspaper the Mindanao Examiner.

Regional Police Chief Joel Goltiao said Albader Parad, a local leader of the Islamic group Abu Sayyaf, was behind the abductions, according to AP. Goltiao said he was not aware of a ransom demand, AP reported.

“We are deeply concerned for the safety of these three journalists,” Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator, said. “It is great cause for concern that this volatile southern region of the Philippines remains insecure for the press, and we call on local authorities to work diligently to secure their safe and swift release.”

The Abu Sayyaf group—whose activities in the Philippines reportedly have been linked to al-Qaeda—has claimed responsibility for several bombings and kidnappings for ransom.

Militants associated with different Abu Sayyaf factions have repeatedly endangered the media on Jolo. In 2000, they abducted 16 foreign and local journalists, including ABS-CBN cameraman Val Cuenca and researcher/writer Maan Macapagal. The journalists had been covering the group’s abduction of 21 hostages, including several foreign tourists, from a resort in eastern Malaysia.

Two Abu Sayyaf members also eluded police after an arrest warrant was filed against them for the murder of MindaNews photographer Gene Boyd Lumawag in Jolo city in November 2004. The suspects, Anni Sailani and his brother Itting, were shot and killed in a battle with Philippine soldiers in June 2007, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Abu Sayyaf is one of several groups of an independence movement seeking a separate state for the Muslim Moro minority in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.

Date posted: June 11, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 621