Monday, August 13, 2012

May 2, 2000

May 2, 2000, [20:44 ET] Reuters, Two Foreign Hostages Killed in Philippine Clash-TV,
May 2, 2000, [21:10:00 ET] Reuters, Philippine hostage couple appeals in note for help,
May 2, 2000, [23:47 ET] Reuters, Philippine Official Says Foreign Hostages All Alive,
May 2, 2000, Philippine Headline News, Govt Negotiations W/Jolo Kidnappers Begin,
May 2, 2000, Philippine Headline News, Sayyaf Moved 27 Hostages from Basilan to Jolo?,
May 2, 2000, [16:48 GMT - 17:48 UK] BBC News,Analysis: How hostages cope, by BBC News Online's Julian Duplain,

May 2, 2000, [20:44 ET] Reuters, Two Foreign Hostages Killed in Philippine Clash-TV,

MANILA (Reuters) - Two foreign hostages among the 21 held by Muslim rebels on Jolo island in the southern Philippines were found dead after clashes between troops and guerrillas, local TV reported on Wednesday.

A military spokesman said no independent confirmation was available on the report that a white woman and a white man had died. Checks were being made with Philippine forces in the area.

"The Abu Sayyaf confirmed to us last night that two Caucasians died. They called... saying that they do not know the nationalities, but one is a woman and the other a man," the local ABS-CBN TV station said.

"They emphasized they did not kill the hostages. The man died of a stray bullet and the woman of a heart attack," the report said, adding that no bodies had been seen.

There was no immediate word on the identities of the dead hostages.

The 21 hostages kidnapped on April 23 from a Malaysian diving resort were 10 Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, one Lebanese and a Filipina.

The fundamentalist Abu Sayyaf is one of two Muslim groups fighting for a separate Islamic state in the south of the country.


The clashes on Jolo island, where the hostages were taken after being kidnapped on April 23 from a Malaysian diving resort, started on Tuesday and firing was heard late into the night from the area.

The ABS-CBN TV network said its source for the hostage deaths was Abu Sayyaf's "Commander Robot," reported to be in charge of the group holding the captives.

The gunbattle broke out a day after a group of journalists saw the hostages, who pleaded for a quick end to their captivity and said they were hungry, sick and feared for their lives.

It also occurred hours after a caller to a local radio station who claimed to be one of the rebels said they would behead two foreign captives unless the troops were pulled back.

Officials said one soldier was killed and seven were wounded in the clashes.

They added that Abu Sayyaf guerrillas suffered an undetermined number of casualties in the hour-long battle during which artillery shells fell in an area where rebel leaders were meeting.


Jolo, 960 km (600 miles) south of Manila, is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, one of two groups fighting for an Islamic state in the mostly Catholic country.

Some 2,000 troops have ringed the camp where the hostages are kept and the high tension has led to sporadic exchanges of fire with the rebels. But Tuesday's shootout was the first time there were casualties.

The fighting occurred 300 meters (yards) from where the hostages were being kept on Jolo island, chief government negotiator Nur Misuari told reporters on Tuesday in nearby Zamboanga city.

Misuari, a former rebel himself, said he was assessing the situation before sending his emissaries back to resume talks with the guerrillas.

"They're in a fighting mood, in a killer's mood so it's very dangerous but... we will see how we can penetrate," he added.

Tuesday's incident occurred after a failed military operation to rescue another group of hostages and renewed fighting elsewhere in the south with a separate group of Muslim rebels. Last week, the military launched an assault on another Abu Sayyaf camp where 27 Filipino hostages, mostly schoolchildren, where kept after the rebels said they had beheaded two men among their captives.

Troops took control of the camp on Basilan island, near Jolo, on Sunday after heavy fighting but officials said the rebels had apparently escaped, taking away the captives.

In another setback for the government on Tuesday, intense fighting erupted between troops and the main Muslim rebel group in the south, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

More than 80 people were killed. --ABC

May 2, 2000, [21:10:00 ET] Reuters, Philippine hostage couple appeals in note for help,

SINGAPORE, May 3 (Reuters) - South Africans Callie and Monique Strydom, held with 19 others by Philippine rebels, told their families in a letter smuggled from their jungle prison they needed help and "will hopefully see you soon."

A journalist managed to smuggle the hastily scribbled, two-page note out of the bamboo hut on the Philippines' Jolo island where they have been held since they were kidnapped on April 23 from a Malaysian diving resort.

"We love you -- please put pressure on our embassy to help," the couple wrote in the letter, handed to Enrique Soriano, from Singapore's The Straits Times newspaper, during a visit to the hut on Monday.

"All is okay -- we need food and water and clean clothes.

"We are losing weight and miss you all," they said in the note, which was faxed to their family on Tuesday.

The couple, described by Soriano as hungry and distressed, told their family to look after their two "kids" and they were sorry to have missed Thys and Roni's birthdays.

"We are very sorry we are not with you. Will hopefully see you soon," their letter said.

The Straits Times, which published a copy of the note on Wednesday, said the family was extremely grateful for the news.

"Tell them that we are doing our utmost on this side to get them released. Everybody here misses them and they are in our prayers constantly," Monica's parents, Hennie and Monica Aggenbag, told the newspaper.

"Any news eases the uncertainty a bit. Please keep us informed."

Monique Strydom, crying and being comforted by her husband, passed the note to Soriano while a guard was not looking and pleaded for the Philippine military to stop its campaign against the rebels near the camp.

The note appeared in the Straits Times as a Manila television report said two of the hostages -- a white man and a white woman -- were found dead after clashes between the military and the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

The clashes started on Tuesday, a day after the hostages told a group of journalists they wanted a quick end to their captivity and said they were hungry, sick and feared for their lives.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report, which said the male hostage was killed by a stray bullet and the woman died of a heart attack. There was no word on the identity of the dead hostages.

The 21 hostages kidnapped on April 23 were 10 Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, one Lebanese and a Filipina. --ABC

May 2, 2000, [23:47 ET] Reuters, Philippine Official Says Foreign Hostages All Alive,

MANILA (Reuters) - A provincial governor in the southern Philippines said on Wednesday that all foreign hostages held by Islamic rebels in the area were alive and reports that two had died were untrue.

"That news is unverified and in fact that is not true," Sulu Province Governor Abdusakur Tan told Reuters in a telephone interview. "All of the hostages are all right."

Tan, speaking from the island of Jolo where the hostages are being held, refused to say how he received the information.

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf militia, holding the 21 hostages including 10 foreign tourists, told local radio and TV stations two of the captives had died and one was injured following clashes between guerrillas and troops on Tuesday night.

He said one man was killed a stray bullet, a woman died of a heart attack and another man was injured in the shooting. He did not identify the nationalities of those involved but said the victims were Caucasian.

The hostages -- 10 Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, one Lebanese and a Filipina -- were kidnapped from a Malysian dive resort off Borneo on April 23, Easter Sunday, and brought to Jolo.

Military officials have also said the report was unconfirmed and may be part of propaganda by the militants to force troops encircling the camp to pull back. --ABC

May 2, 2000, Philippine Headline News, Govt Negotiations W/Jolo Kidnappers Begin,

Jolo Island, May 2, 2000 The Bulletin reported today that government negotiators have met in Jolo with leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels for the release of 21 hostages, 10 of them western tourists, abducted from Malaysia April 23.

Government chief Negotiator, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Nur Misuari, said the meeting could determine if talks for the release of the captives will continue or whether another option has to be adopted by the government to free hostages from the hands of their captors.

Misuari declined to make public what the groups discussed.

The former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader expressed optimism that the rebels will release the hostages unconditionally without payment of ransom.

ASG leader Abu Umbra has taken custody of the six Malaysian nationals in barangay Karawan, Indanan, Sulu while the 15 others were under the custody of Mujib Susukan and Galib Andang in their camp in Talipao, Sulu.

Misuari confirmed reports that most of the 21 tourists kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are sick and need immediate medical attention.

Misuari said the hostages also asked for food and bottled water, clothes and underwear, including sanitary napkins.

Some of the hostages were suffering from diarrhea and stomach pains due to water and food given them by their captors. Others were suffering from colds and fever and had wounded feet from walking through the forest to their hiding place in the mountains of Jolo.

The hostages asked their respective government through Misuari for medicine, food, and water for their consumption while in captivity.

The Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines has sent boxes of assorted medicines for the captives in Talipao, Sulu.

Misuari said his office also donated assorted medicines and is sending doctors to the rebels' camp to check on the condition of the hostages.

He commissioned some of his men to deliver the medicines to the rebels camp for the use of the hostages who need immediate medication.

May 2, 2000, Philippine Headline News, Sayyaf Moved 27 Hostages from Basilan to Jolo?,

Zamboanga City, May 2, 2000 - Eight boats bearing children were sighted by residents landing in Jolo a few days ago, strengthening suspicions that the Abu Sayyaf rebels have evaded a military dragnet and have moved their 27 Filipino hostages, mostly school children, from Basilan. The residents reported the sighting.

The extremist Muslim guerillas were rumored to have fled with their hostages after the military launched a full-scale attack on their mountaintop stronghold in Basilan.

Military officials in Jolo could not confirm the residents' accounts.

The residents’ reports jived with Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ahmad’s claim on local radio that the hostages, snatched last March 20, were being taken to Jolo.

"It appears that the rebels managed to escape," the Bulletin quotes Col. Ernesto de Guzman, chief of staff of the Southern Philippines military Command. "They could have split into groups and the others were reported to be in Lamitan town.”.

Despite the reported Jolo landing, more than a thousand Philippine soldiers kept vigil over a tunnel around the Aby Sayyaf camp in Basilan, site of the hideout where the hostages were first brought.

Armed forces spokesman Colonel Hilario Atendido told reporters soldiers were searching for rebels and the hostages in many tunnels, hidden bunkers and trenches on top of the mountain in Basilan.

"We hope the victims and the Abu Sayyaf are still there," he said, adding that soldiers who took part in the assault had reported hearing "children's voices" inside.

"We will not use teargas," he said, adding that gas would only be used if "extremely necessary."

Sniffer dogs were to be flown by helicopter to the Basilan rebel camp to check for booby traps, the military said.

May 2, 2000, [16:48 GMT - 17:48 UK] BBC News,Analysis: How hostages cope, by BBC News Online's Julian Duplain,

The 21 hostages seized from a Philippines beach - like other victims of hijacks, sieges and political violence - are having to cope with extreme psychological pressures for which most people are completely unprepared.

At the start of a kidnap, there is an initial disbelief that this could be happening at all, followed by alarm and fear as unknown, armed people - perhaps speaking a language you don't understand - take control of the

"It's a rollercoaster," says Peter Hodgkinson of the Centre for Crisis Psychology.

"There are long periods of boredom, punctuated by ghastly bursts of violence, fear and threat."

Find a routine

An increasing number of training courses offer advice and tactics to the nervous traveller or people with good reason to fear that they might be kidnapped and held for ransom.

Hostages are advised to keep quiet and not to draw attention to themselves.

Army clothing, religious or political insignia can single you out as a target.

Dr Peter Bailes, a consultant forensic psychologist, stresses the need for hostages to "settle into a routine".

Under stress hostages tend to become hypervigilant and jumpy, but the need to remain calm is paramount.

Small things become of vital importance - the availability of food and fresh water, and washing and toilet facilities.

For many hostages, the lack of hygiene is one of the hardest things to bear, especially if the captivity is long.

To be unable to go to the toilet in private, or to clean yourself, reverses some of the most basic habits we are taught as small children.

As well as being physically repulsive, it can take a considerable psychological toll.

Ever-present fear

The main aim of any hostage-taker is to terrorise the hostages - to keep them docile or to force them to support the hijackers' demands.

Fear is the ever-present emotion.

"Nothing can make that better, or prepare you for that," says Peter Hodgkinson.

Building any kind of relationship with the hostage-takers can be improve the victims' chances of survival.

"Creating a link means that you are less likely to be killed," says Dr James Thompson of University College London.

But often gunmen - aware of the risk of being weakened if they start to sympathise with their captives - rotate guard duties frequently, giving the hostages little opportunity to build a rapport with any one of them.

"Trapped body, racing mind," is Dr Thompson's summary of the hostage's

When even a slight movement might invite a blow from an angry hijacker, the hostage's mind plans strategies, remembers loved ones, builds up hopes and tries to counter despair.


Special challenges face families who are kidnapped together - like the German tourist Werner Gunter Kort, who was seized by the Abu Sayyaf group with his wife and son.

It is easier to face the trials of captivity with your loved ones, but for parents there is always the fear that their children might become a target for violence.

Threats against children are often the most effective way to influence their parents.

And for children, the psychological effects can be more acute if they see their parents suffer.

"It is particularly horrible for children to see their parents humbled," says Peter Hodgkinson.

A child who sees a parent beaten or reduced to a state of abject fear has the vital childhood myth of an invincible mother or father who protects them from the world shattered.


Some hostages start to feel sympathy for their captors, and even support their cause.

This is known as the Stockholm Syndrome, following a bank siege there in 1973, in which the hostages sided with the robbers and resisted rescue.

One of the hostages eventually became engaged to one of the captors.

But psychologists suggest that the Stockholm Syndrome is the exception rather than the rule.

More important are the group dynamics among the hostages themselves - and among the kidnappers.

Prejudice, considerateness and humanity can come out just as much during a siege as in everyday life.

"Some hostages find resources they didn't know they had - after their release they say 'I didn't realise I had it in me'," says Peter Bailes.

Solidarity among the captives can be vital, but different hostages have different ways of dealing wit the situation.

As in any group, some people are more likeable than others.

"There have been cases," says James Thompson, "where hostages have been taken away and shot - or it appeared that they had been shot - and the other hostages were secretly pleased."


For those who make it out alive, freedom almost always brings elation. But the effects of being kidnapped don't disappear so easily.

Hostages tend to review their performance and analysis how they performed under pressure.

"'I could have been braver', 'I never knew I could feel fear like that' - these kind of reproaches often come out," says Peter Hodgkinson.

Some people never get over the effects. --BBC

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