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AFP ready to go in to rescue Basilan hostages–spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:03:00 07/08/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces are ready to step in to free four electric cooperative employees held hostage by the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province if it is called upon by a crisis committee negotiating for the captives’ release, a spokesman said.

Reports said the captors, allegedly led by Furuji Indama and Nur Hasan Jamiri, had set a Tuesday deadline for a P1-million ransom, else the amount would be increased and one of the hostages could be “sacrificed.”

“When there is a need to transition into a military option in resolving the kidnapping case, the military is prepared,” said Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr.

Torres said the decision to launch military operations would be the call of the crisis committee. “It cannot be decided upon by the military unilaterally,” he said.

At the same time, Torres maintained that the government’s no-ransom policy would be upheld.

Basilan Electric Cooperative (Baselco) employees Ronnie Tansiung, Emilberto Singson, Alberto Singson, Paul Herwig, and Ian Herwig were seized last June 26 in Tuburan town.

Tansiung was freed the same day.

The Basilan incident was the second kidnapping incident involving the Abu Sayyaf in a month’s time.

On June 8, the bandits seized a three-man ABS-CBN television news crew and a university professor in Sulu province. They were released on June 17 after a P5-million ransom was allegedly paid.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-07-08T07:57:22+00:00UTC07bUTCTue, 08 Jul 2008 07:57:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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