MORO National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari said Wednesday he has located the kidnap victims—three foreigners and a Filipina—in Sulu province and identified the group behind their abduction from the Ocean View Resort Hotel on Samal Island on Sept. 21.
“We already know where the kidnap victims are,” said MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza quoting Misuari after talking to him by phone. “We are 95 percent sure where they are.”
Cerveza did not offer any details, however.
An informed source on Wednesday identified the leader of the kidnappers as Al-Habsi Misaya or Al Bahil, a former member of the Abu Sayyaf Group from Jolo who formed his own gang that now operates in the Zamboanga Sibugay area.
The source described Misaya as a leader of the ASG faction that recently kidnapped a Malaysian resort manager Yang Zai Linin in Sabah in 2014 and Malaysian maritime policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, also in Sabah, and beheaded seven Filipino factory workers in 2007.
The source said Misaya met the group from Samal Island and brought them to the foot of Mt. Bud Daho, about 15 to 16 kilometers from the camp of the MNLF.
Misaya or Bahil, the source said, was responsible for the series of kidnappings aimed at foreigners.
Kjartan Sekkingstad, Norwegian, and operations manager of the resort; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and his Filipino girlfriend only known as Marites Flor were snatched at 11:30 p.m. Monday.
Cerveza said it was the intelligence section of the MNLF that monitored the whereabouts of the captives and immediately transmitted the information to Misuari by phone.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was in Zamboanga City, called up Misuari, Cerveza said.
He added that Misuari told Duterte he didn’t want any ransom negotiations.
Cerveza said Misuari, who is wanted for the Zamboanga siege last year, would help only if the government asked him to.
“It is a big problem. The military is directly involved in the situation and we don’t just be entering into the picture without government’s authority to do so,” Cerveza added.
“The military has weapons and the MNLF also has weapons and we don’t want a repeat of the Mamasapano incident,” Cerveza said, referring to the massacre of 44 police commandos by Muslim rebels, including those from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The kidnappers are the subject of a massive military manhunt in Davao Oriental.
Sources said that from Samal Island, the kidnappers went to the coastal area in Carmen, Panabo, Davao del Norte and traveled by land using a vehicle and negotiated road networks of the provinces of Surigao, and Butuan until they reached Valencia, Bukidnon.
After Valencia, Bukidnon, they went to Kabacan, Cotabato. At that point, it was unclear where they went.
Ten days after the kidnapping, the military has still not said where the victims were taken.
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