Thursday, August 23, 2012

May 13, 2000


May 13, 2000, ABC / Reuters, Philippine Rebels Hold Hostage, Seize Others,
May 13, 2000, CNN News, 12 journalists reported missing in Philippines,
May 13, 2000, Reuters / ABC News, Philippine rebels want troop pullback before talks,
May 13 , 2000, AFP / The Straits Times, 11 European journalists missing in hostage island,
May 13, 2000, AFP, Negotiators return without German hostage,
May 13, 2000, AFP, Muslim kidnappers demand release of leader's relatives,
May 13, 2000, AFP, Philippine hostage letters tell of jungle ordeal,



May 13, 2000, ABC / Reuters, Philippine Rebels Hold Hostage, Seize Others,
WIRE:05/13/2000 10:23:00 ET

JOLO, Philippines (Reuters) - Muslim rebels refused on Saturday to free an ailing German woman among 21 mostly foreign hostages, and nine journalists were reported missing near the guerrilla's stronghold in the southern Philippines.

The separatist Abu Sayyaf rebels demanded a pullout of all troops near their lair on Jolo island and proposed a framework for future talks, dealing a blow to hopes they would release any of the weary captives soon.

Elsewhere in the violence-torn southern region, the main Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), seized 65 people hostage in a raid on a village, the army said.

The MILF, like the Abu Sayyaf battling for an independent Muslim homeland, denied it had taken the civilians hostage on Mindanao island and said they might have been trapped during fighting with government forces.

The rebels' refusal to free German housewife Renate Wallert, 57, who suffers from high blood pressure and has weakened in the tropical heat, marked a setback for government negotiators who had said earlier she was virtually sure to be released and had arranged a Lear jet to fly her out.

Instead, the Abu Sayyaf presented negotiators with a list of demands and a proposed basis for talks, suggesting the government might be in for tough, prolonged bargaining.

NINE JOURNALISTS MISSING

Provincial police chief Colonel Candido Casimiro initially said 12 journalists -- 11 foreigners and one Filipino -- went missing after they set out early on Saturday and a vehicle was found abandoned near the Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

Three of the 12, two French and the Filipino, returned to Jolo town at nightfall, one saying they had gone "out for a ride." They had no information on their missing colleagues.

Police listed the nine others as still missing. They did not give their nationalities.

Journalists had previously hiked to the Abu Sayyaf's jungle hideout, spent at least one night there and returned safely.

A surge in Islamic militancy has led to a spate of kidnappings by guerrillas over the past two months and posed the most serious security challenge to President Joseph Estrada since he took power almost two years ago.

Despite the hostage crisis and waning popularity due to scandals that have rocked his government, Estrada has said he will go ahead with a planned trip to China starting on Tuesday.

The involvement of 19 foreign hostages from six countries -- Finland, France, Germany, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa -- has thrown an international spotlight on the Philippines, where kidnapping for ransom is common.

REBELS DEMAND ARMY WITHDRAWAL

Philippine and Libyan negotiators met Abu Sayyaf militants on Saturday on Jolo island, where the 21 hostages have been held since they were kidnapped at an exclusive Malaysian diving resort on April 23.

Another Abu Sayyaf group is holding nine Filipino hostages, mostly schoolchildren, on nearby Basilan island.

Libyan envoy Rajab Azzarouq said the guerrillas had presented a list of demands at the meeting, the second with government negotiators since the crisis began.

Negotiators were hoping the release of Wallert would lend momentum to talks, which have been hampered by fighting and ill coordinated troop maneuvers, and lead to the early release of the other hostages.

Earlier in the week Wallert was shown on television lying semi-conscious in a hammock, but officials said she had since received medicine and was now feeling better.

On Friday, presidential Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora said the government was hopeful "there will be breakthroughs" in the negotiations before Estrada leaves for China.

But officials have cautioned that negotiations to free the hostages could take weeks or even months.

GUNFIRE ON MINDANAO

On Mindanao island, gunfire erupted in the area where the army said 65 people had been taken hostage, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Army spokesman Captain Noel Detoyato said Saturday's hostage-taking incident occurred during an MILF raid on a village of Esperanza municipality in Sultan Kudarat province, about 240 miles northeast of Jolo.

MILF vice chairman for military affairs, Al Haj, denied the MILF had taken the villagers hostage.

"It is possible they (the MILF men) were passing through on their way to their camp and the army intercepted and then there was an encounter," Murad said.

"There were civilians trapped inside the village who could not get out but we are assuring (them) that this is not hostage taking." --ABC



May 13, 2000, AP / CNN News, 12 journalists reported missing in Philippines,

Web posted at: 8:41 PM HKT (1241 GMT)

JOLO, Philippines (AP) -- Twelve journalists, most of them from French television, were reported missing Saturday after moving into a mountainous area where Muslim extremists are holding 21 people hostage, police said.

The two vans the journalists had set out in were recovered by early evening, but with no sign of either the drivers or journalists, police said.

"They have gone missing and unaccounted for, but we have alerted the police in the province to search for them," said Sulu provincial Police Chief Candido Casimiro.

"They left without permission and I have repeatedly said over and over again not to go out of Jolo."

Casimiro said the missing journalists included workers from French television channels TF1 and France 2; one employee of Agence France-Presse, the French news service; and a Filipino, Frederick Alvarez.

They had gone Saturday morning to Patikul, a municipality near where Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding 21 hostages -- including two French people and eight other tourists -- who were taken hostage in Malaysia and then brought to the southern Philippines.

Police received a phone call advising that the journalists had not returned from their trip. --CNN



May 13 , 2000, AFP / The Straits Times, 11 European journalists missing in hostage island,
Breaking News
Updated at 7:55pm

JOLO (Philippines) -- Eleven European journalists who were believed to have gone to the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group's hideout in the southern Philippines on Saturday were reported missing.

Police said that two vehicles used by the French and German journalists, accompanied by a local guide, were found along a highway leading to the hideout.

Sulu police chief Candido Casimiro told reporters: "They are considered as missing. They went up to the hideout, the police tried to dissuade them from going but they insisted."

Mr Casimiro said that the journalists went to the area in two batches.

Dozens of reporters and photographers have converged here to cover the abduction of 21 people from seven countries by the Abu Sayyaf.

The gunmen had kidnapped the hostages from a Malaysian island resort off Borneo and brought them to Jolo island by speedboat across the sea border.

Officials had expected the Abu Sayyaf to release an ailing German hostage on Saturday but negotiators who went to talk to them returned empty handed. -- AFP



May 13, 2000, Reuters / ABC News, Philippine rebels want troop pullback before talks,
WIRE:05/13/2000 07:48:00 ET

JOLO, Philippines, May 13 (Reuters) - Moslem rebels holding 21 mostly foreign hostages in the southern Philippines demanded on Saturday that government troops withdraw from around their stronghold before they resume negotiations, officials said.

Presidential adviser Robert Aventajado told reporters that four leaders of the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas presented government negotiators with a list of initial demands and a proposed framework for talks.

The demands included the withdrawal of all soldiers and militia from the area on the southern island of Jolo where talks would be held, he said. The rebels said they would be willing to hold a two- to three-day
negotiating session to present detailed demands if the troops were withdrawn.

"These are things we will have to discuss with the president, so I'm going to meet the president tomorrow," Aventajado said, referring to President Joseph Estrada.

Libyan envoy Rajab Azzarouq, who is helping the Philippine negotiators, said the rebels did not give a reason why they did not release ailing German hostage Renate Wallert on Saturday as expected. "She's OK, but her release will be the first subject of negotiations," he said. --ABC



May 13, 2000, AFP, Negotiators return without German hostage,

JOLO, Philippines, May 13 (AFP) - 18:59 - Negotiators failed to win the release of an ailing German hostage from Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnappers despite early assurances they will hand her over from among 21 hostages from seven nations.

"We did not see the hostages. They were far away," Rajab Azzarouq, a former Libyan ambassador to the Philippines and key mediator in the hostage crisis, told reporters briefly after returning from talks with the rebels.

Officials were earlier confident German teacher Renate Wallert, 57, who is suffering from hypertension, would be released Saturday.

They had made preparations to give her instant medical treatment here and fly her to Manila for President Joseph Estrada to officially hand her over to the German envoy.

An anxious Estrada had been keeping in touch by telephone with his envoy here, awaiting Wallert's release.

Azzarouq said the rebels only gave a set of demands to a four-man team, including him and top government negotiator Ghazali Ibrahim, during the talks which took place at a distant hill slope in the southern island of
Jolo.

He did not elaborate.

Abu Sayyaf rebels are also holding Wallert's husband and son, as well as nationals from France, Finland, South Africa, Lebanon, the Philippines and Malaysia.

The captives were snatched from a Malaysian resort on April 23 and taken across the sea border to Jolo. --AFP



May 13, 2000, AFP, Muslim kidnappers demand release of leader's relatives,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, May 13 (AFP) - 13:17 - Abu Sayyaf rebels holding 21 hostages repeated demands Saturday for a swap of an ailing German captive for relatives of the Muslim group's leader being held by a vigilante group.

An Abu Sayyaf spokesman told a local radio station the rebels also wanted military operations against Abu Sayyaf to be suspended as another condition for the release of 57-year-old German woman Renate Wallert, who is suffering from hypertension.

The Abu Sayyaf had made these two demands on Thursday.

It is not immediately known whether the demands will be met by the authorities, which announced the Abu Sayyaf was widely expected to release Wallert on Saturday.

Abu Sayyaf rebels are also holding Wallert's husband and son, as well as nationals from France, Finland, South Africa, Lebanon, the Philippines and Malaysia in the southern island of Jolo.

They were snatched from a Malaysian resort on April 23 and brought across the sea border to Jolo.

"If they want us to free the sick German woman then they should first release the captives held by Lidjal (the vigilante group)," Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ahmad said on Radio Mindanao.

Abdul Lidjal, vigilante leader in southern Basilan province, is holding the mother, sister and seven other relatives of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani.

They were taken captive by the vigilante group in retaliation for the abduction by the Abu Sayyaf of a group of all-Filipino hostages, mostly teachers and children, from two schools in Basilan island.

The military rescued 15 of the captives but the guerillas killed six others, including a Roman Catholic priest, and continue to hold up to around nine others.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Ahmad's statement over the radio was made as officials expressed optimism German hostage Wallert would be released Saturday.

"We are sending the people there to formalise the turnover," senior local official Nur Misuari told Philippine President Joseph Estrada's top aide Ronaldo Zamora by telephone, an AFP reporter at the scene in Jolo said.

Misuari, governor of the Muslim autonomous region which includes Jolo island, said the rebels wanted to turn over Wallert on Saturday.

Government negotiators have not spoken of any specific conditions for the release of Wallert.

But Philippine foreign minister Domingo Siazon said Friday Abu Sayyaf gunmen had asked for "reimbursement for the cost of board and lodging," the term used by extremists for ransom.

Siazon said it would be "up to the people on the ground to determine" whether to grant it.

Government negotiators earlier denied reports that the extremist guerrilla group had asked for between 50,000 and 70,000 pesos (1,207-1,690 dollars) for each captive.

Nearly all previous Abu Sayyaf kidnappings have ended with payments for "board and lodging," a term used by both the guerrillas and the government, which has a policy of not paying ransoms. --AFP



May 13, 2000, AFP, Philippine hostage letters tell of jungle ordeal,

JOLO, Philippines, May 13 (AFP) - 15:05 - The 21 mostly foreign hostages held by Muslim extremists in this southern island are forced to walk through the jungle at night, putting their lives at risk, according to
letters by some of them to their loved ones.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen delivered personally seven letters from the hostages to Rajab Azzarouq, former Libyan ambassador to the Philippines and key mediator in the hostage crisis.

Azzarouq declined to release them to media saying they were "personal." But excerpts of two May 11-dated letters, captured in photographs taken by journalists while he held them up briefly Friday, said the hostages faced problems with food and water supplies.

The letters, believed to have been cleared by the Abu Sayyaf rebels, also blamed Philippine military harassment for endangering them by forcing the rebels to flee at night with the hostages through the jungle.

Lebanese hostage Marie Michele Moarbes said in a note to her father: "We have changed camps three times. Everytime they move us at night by foot in the jungle."

Another letter from an unidentified hostage said: "we have been on the move, staying just a few days in each camp."

"Most of the time, we have been short of clean drinking water and food," the note said.

Moarbes said in her letter written in French that the hostages were surviving on spring water and rice.

She said she was "taking care of the wounded with a few notions of first aid" but did not say who the wounded among the group were or how they were injured.

She indicated that the condition of German hostage Renate Wallert, who is suffering from hypertension and expected to be released Saturday, had not improved.

Moarbes said she helped the German by giving "mouth to mouth resuscitation."

"The others are doing well. Morale is sometimes high, sometimes low," she added.

Apart from Moarbes and Wallert, Abu Sayyaf rebels are also holding Wallert's husband and son, as well as nationals from France, Finland, South Africa, the Philippines and Malaysia.

They were snatched from a Malaysian resort on April 23 and taken across the sea border to Jolo.

According to the letter from the unidentified hostage, "besides directly risking our lives, the miltary causes a lot of trouble in getting in supplies."

The rebels abandoned a meeting with negotiators on Wednesday and fled with the hostages after complaining about the military build up around the planned venue for the talks.

The military however lifted a cordon around the rebel's hideout on Friday and the negotiators managed to reestablish direct contacts with the rebels.

Moarbes complained about military clashes with the Abu Sayyaf, saying "they have attacked us twice already.

"We were under fire. They are preventing the Red Cross and food from arriving.

"Attacking is not the solution. They must negotiate," she said.

The military and police previously set up cordons around the Abu Sayyaf hideouts and clashed with rebels who tried to break out. --AFP




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