Soldiers rescue 13 hostages

Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine soldiers rescued 13 hostages – including three children – early today after a clash with a Muslim separatist group that has beheaded 10 other captives in the past few days, officials said.

The 13 were among a group of 36 people seized Thursday in a raid by the group Abu Sayyaf on a village on the southern island of Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a separate group of 20 hostages, including three Americans, on another part of Basilan, a guerrilla stronghold nearly 600 miles south of the capital of Manila.

Of the group seized Thursday from the southern village of Balobo, 10 were found beheaded, said army spokesman Maj. Alberto Gepilano.

Beheading has become a hallmark of the Abu Sayyaf, who claim they are fighting for an independent Muslim state to be carved out of the southern Philippines – a mostly Muslim region of this predominantly Roman Catholic nation. The Philippine government calls Abu Sayyaf bandits who are out to profit from kidnapping.

Most, or all, of those kidnapped and beheaded were Christian.

It remained unclear Sunday whether any of the original 36 were still being held; at least 34 had been accounted for.

Gepilano said the rescued hostages were abandoned by the Abu Sayyaf early Sunday when the army stormed a temporary guerrilla camp in Basilan’s mountainous Kapayawan region. He said there were no immediate reports of casualties in the fighting.

Social workers said dozens of families, mostly victims’ relatives, have fled their homes in Balobo in fear of more attacks.

Deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Calimlim said 11 hostages were freed Friday morning to relay the Abu Sayyaf’s demand that the army end its campaign to eradicate the group.

“That is the only demand of the Abu Sayyaf,” Calimlim said.

The Abu Sayyaf, thought to number 1,100 fighters, carried out an attack on a southwestern beach resort on May 27, seizing 20 hostages, including three Americans.

The group grabbed another approximately 20 people from a hospital and a plantation in Lamitan early in June. The rebels earlier killed four Filipino captives from the resort and Lamitan. Some hostages escaped or were released since then.

The group is still holding a missionary couple, Martin and Gracia Burnham, from Wichita, Kan., but claims to have beheaded the third American, Guillermo Sobero, from Corona, Calif. Sobero’s body has not been found, however.

The Abu Sayyaf embarrassed the Philippines in a similar hostage crisis last year when it seized 21 hostages, including foreigners, from a Malaysian resort, and reportedly collected millions of dollars in ransom payments.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mel Jennings sits in his structure during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Mel has had a brain and spinal surgery, and currently has been homeless for a year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Annual homeless count aims to give snapshot of housing crisis

Volunteers set out into the rain Tuesday to count all the people facing homelessness in central Everett.

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Lawmakers push to boost voting in county jails across the state

A House bill envisions an approach similar to what’s been happening in the Snohomish County Jail for several years.

Vandalism at Seaview Park on Jan. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Edmonds Police Department)
Police seek suspects in repeated vandalism at Edmonds parks

Vandals have done over $10,000 of damage to parks across the city, including suspected arson and graffiti with hate speech.

One worker looks up from the cargo area as another works in what will be the passenger compartment on one of the first Boeing 787 jets as it stands near completion at the front of the assembly line, Monday, May 19, 2008, in Everett, Wash. The plane, the first new Boeing jet in 14 years, is targeted for power on in June followed by an anticipated first flight sometime late in 2008.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits

The company confirmed in depositions that parts of its Everett plant still don’t meet 2010 standards.

CarlaRae Arneson, of Lynnwood, grabs a tea press full of fresh tea from Peanut the server robot while dining with her 12-year-old son Levi at Sushi Hana on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. CarlaRae said she and her son used to visit the previous restaurant at Sushi Hana’s location and were excited to try the new business’s food. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Peanut the robot waitress is on a roll at Lynnwood’s Sushi Hana

She’s less RoboCop and more Rosey as she patrols the restaurant, making sure everyone has a drink and good time.

K-9 Hobbs and Sgt. Jason Robinson pose for a photo after Hobbs’ retirement ceremony at the Edmonds Police Department in Edmonds, Washington on Thursday Jan. 26, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Police dog Hobbs retires after nearly 10 years on the Edmonds force

The German shepherd had 520 deployments, 166 arrests and 113 evidence finds with his handler, Sgt. Jason Robinson.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown and the victim of a brutal attack in 2018 answer questions from reporters on Jan. 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
White supremacists sentenced for racist beating at Lynnwood bar

A federal judge handed out stiffer sentences than prosecutors had asked for in a series of sentencing hearings Friday.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville State of the City address set for Feb. 1

Mayor Jon Nehring will highlight 2022 accomplishments and look to the future. Questions from the audience will follow.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A move to require voting and a bicameral chasm on vehicle pursuits

It’s Day 19 and the mood is heating up as the third week of the 2023 legislative session comes to an end.

Most Read