Philippines security forces have arrested two members of an al-Qaeda-linked group after the Abu Sayyaf failed an attempt to kidnap a businesswoman whose family has previously been targeted in the country’s south.
Col. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group commander in Sulu province, told Anadolu Agency in a text message that two suspects identified as Ayatullah Andam Arabah and Jurpin Talib Abduhalim were captured at around 7.25 pm (1225GMT) Saturday in the provincial capital of Jolo.
Businesswoman Adelaida Tan Hablo had reportedly been riding a tricycle when she was pursued by armed men near a high school for boys in Kasulutan village. She managed to escape and seek police assistance.
Police and military teams responded, resulting in a brief firefight breaking out with Abu Sayyaf members, who were forced to abandon their motorcycles and a getaway vehicle.
Arabah and Abduhalim were captured in pursuit operations in nearby Busbus village.
"Their two [getaway] vehicles were recovered in Barangay Umangay, Patikul as their cohorts splintered going to different directions," Arrojado said in a text message.
Adelaida Tan Hablo’s husband Archie Hablo II – whose family owns a business in Jolo -- was kidnapped Oct. 2013 and held captive for eight months before police found him in Gandasuli village, Patikul town.
The military had denied reports that Archie was released after a ransom was paid to his captors.
The Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
By Hader Glang
© Copyright Andolu Ajansi