After two months of holding the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers in the mountains of Jolo, Sulu, the kidnappers headed by Albader Parad of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group demanded that military, police and civilian forces must leave 15 barangays in five towns in Sulu within 24 hours. The new demand came after three military men died and 19 others were wounded last week in a skirmish between government forces and members of the Islamic extremists.
There are fresh worries that Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba—-the three humanitarian workers snatched by the kidnappers, last January 15, 2009 in Mindanao will be harmed or killed. According to Sulu vice gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla, one of the negotiators said the terrorist group is serious in its threat to decapitate one of the hostages.
The appeal of the ICRC to spare and free the hostages have fallen in deaf ears. With little that it can do, government forces are weighing in on how to resolve the hostage situation which drags on, putting the hostages’ fate in greater danger.
The Abu Sayyaf has a disdainful history of beheading its innocent victims as in case of Peruvian-American Guillermo Sobero who was snatched together with 20 others in a Palawan resort before being killed 8 years ago.
Martin Burnham, a missionary died under Abu Sayyaf hands in a deadly shootout after being held in captivity for more than a year with his wife Gracia. In the past, this violent Islamic group with Al Qaeda ties is known to seek ransom that runs in millions. (Photo Credit: Charlie Saceda) =0=
Pope Appeals for the release of hostages
On March 31, 2009, the Vatican issued an appeal from Pope Benedict to set free the innocent ICRC hostages. The pontiff calls for “humanitarian sensibililty and reason to prevail over violence and intimidation.” His message was sent by the Holy See as the 2 P. M. deadline to comply with the kidnappers’ demand that the military and police pull back from Jolo draws near.