Abu Sayyaf terrorists released two policewomen after more than three weeks of captivity
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The ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists released two policewomen after more than three weeks of captivity on the island province of Sulu in restive Mindanao, a senior police officer confirmed on Wednesday.
Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Western Mindanao Command, revealed that rookie Police Officer 1 Dinah Gumahad was the first to be released on Tuesday in a remote “barangay” (village) in the town of Talipao, Sulu.
Beltran added the terrorists followed this up by freeing Police Officer 3 Bennierose Alvarez on Wednesday morning also in Talipao after they were held hostage for more than three weeks.
Based on still sketchy reports, Beltran, however, did not say whether a ransom was paid amid earlier reports that the terrorists had demanded a $100,000 ransom for their release.
Nevertheless, Malacanang Palace through Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman, stressed the government was strictly following its “no-ransom policy.” The two policewomen were on their way home to Patikul, Sulu aboard a motorised tricycle (rickshaw) along with two civilians when they were abducted on April 29.
But a military officer disclosed their release could have been due to unabated operations launched by government forces to rescue not only the two policewomen but also the remaining 15 foreigners and Filipinos still held hostage by the terrorists.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 14 people – 11 terrorists and three soldiers – were slain in encounters in Patikul in the past four days as part of their rescue operations.
General Carlito Galvez, the new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, stressed their search and rescue operations for the remaining hostages would continue.
“We will sustain our efforts until the last kidnap victim is rescued and the Abu Sayyaf is neutralised,” Galvez pointed out.
The military blamed the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group that both pledged allegiance to the Daesh extremists in the Middle East for the bloody siege of Marawi, the capital city of Lanao del Sur in Mindanao, in late May 2017 that ended only after five months of heavy fighting between government forces and the terrorists in October that same year.
Source: Gulf Today