Abu Sayyaf kidnaps soldier

By Roel Pareño

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Staff Sgt. Anni Siraji of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion was traveling to Barangay Igasan when he was seized at around 9:30 a.m. AFP Westmincom/File

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits kidnapped a soldier in Patikul, Sulu on Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Anni Siraji of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion was traveling to Barangay Igasan when he was seized at around 9:30 a.m.

“It is frustrating that a Tausug soldier who wants a peaceful community and is working for it really hard… will be a victim of the bandits...The Abu Sayyaf can victimize even someone from their own tribe,” said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief.  “We will not stop until we get our soldier back.”

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said operations to rescue Siraji are ongoing.

The kidnapping came while government forces have yet to recover 27 other captives, including 20 foreigners.

Sobejana said relentless pursuit operations for the bandits would continue.

Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said they would not extend assistance to Abu Sayyaf “stragglers” believed to be still hiding in Sitio Ilaya in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol after a botched siege. 

Bohol provincial board member Ricky Masamayor said Moro commanders assured him during his visit to Libak, Sultan Kudarat that they would not intervene in military operations to arrest the bandits. 

Masamayor noted that many Abu Sayyaf bandits are former MILF and MNLF members. 

He said one of the bandits, whom he did not identify, was a classmate of his father.

A report of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bohol said Joselito Melloria, who reportedly hosted the bandits at his home in Bohol, was sighted in Barangay Cawayan in Inabanga at the house of a certain Noel Niño.

 Melloria married a Muslim woman whose father is allegedly one of the leaders of the  Abu Sayyaf.  – With Lino de la Cruz, Ric Obedencio/Freeman News Service

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