Sri Lankan hostage is now in the hands of Abu Sayyaf
A Sri Lankan peace activist abducted in the troubled southern Philippinnes is now in the hands of Abu Sayyaf rebels, police sain on Sunday.
Umar Jaleel, a 34-year old and member of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, has been turned over by his captors to Abu Sayyaf under a Furiigi Indama in Basilan, said Benzali Jabarani, a local police commander.
"There's no ransom demand yet from the kidnapers. Our policemen are coordinating with the soldiers on the ground," Jabarani said.
Jaleel, 36, was deployed by his Brussels-based nonpartisan group, the Nonviolent Peaceforce, to the Philippines' southern Mindanao region last year to help foster peace talks between the government and Muslim guerrillas.
He was abducted from his residence, which also serves as his office. A Filipino caretaker managed to escape unharmed as the kidnappers opened fire. The gunmen took a laptop computer, four cell phones and cash, Macapantar said.
The Abu Sayyaf have also been blamed for the abduction of three teachers, a loan company employee and a child on Basilan in a rash of kidnappings believed to have been carried out to raise badly needed funds after the group lost most connections to foreign financiers when many of its commanders were killed in U.S.-backed offensives.
On nearby Jolo Island, marines have eased efforts to rescue kidnapped Red Cross workers Andreas Notter of Switzerland, Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Mary Jean Lacaba of the Philippines to allow officials to negotiate their release from their Abu Sayyaf captors, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan said.
Marines clashed with the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers last week, sparking concerns over the safety of the Red Cross workers, who were seized Jan. 15 after inspecting a water project. The clash wounded nine marines and an unspecified numbers of militants but the hostages were not hurt, the military said.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has more than 300 fighters, is on a U.S. blacklist of terrorist organizations for its al-Qaida links and involvement in bombings, kidnappings and beheadings
Foreign Christian missionaries serving in the conflict-ridden island of Mindanao in the Philippines are to be guarded by armed soldiers as the threat of kidnapping for ransom by Islamic radicals rises.
Senior Superintendent Fransisco Cristobal said that soldiers will be deployed "within shooting range" of churches and convents in mainland Mindanao and in the small islets that surround it.
"We are now initiating safety precautions to protect our local and foreign missionaries, including troop deployment plans near parishes and churches," Cristobal said in a report on 'Mindanews.'
Abu Sayyaf is listed as a terror organization by the United States, Europe and the Philippines.
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Negros Oriental, Philippines