2 Germans held by Sayyaf

Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2014 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Two German nationals who went missing off Palawan were confirmed to be held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province, according to a state college professor. Professor Octavio Dinampo of the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Sulu said his informants confirmed the report that the German nationals were being held by the bandits.

He said Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and his female companion, Herike Diesen, 55, were forcibly taken from their yacht at Rio Tubbataha, an hour’s ride from Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

“They were taken from the yacht and then transferred to a Volvo speedboat by Jihad Susukan,” Dinampo said.

He said Susukan alias Iddang is the younger brother of the slain Abu Sayyaf leader Mujib Susukan.

According to Dinampo, the group of Susukan with their captive Germans arrived April 14 at Sitio Sangay, Barangay Buhanginan but later moved out to evade the Marine company detachment near the area.

He said the bandits and their hostages went to Barangay Kabuntakas, an area where the group of senior Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron is encamped in the jungles near Patikul town.

“That’s where the victims were united with the two other European captives. That’s why they were called ‘jungle mates’ according to my informants,” Dinampo said.

A Dutchman, Elwold Horn, and Swiss Lorenzo Vinceguerre were kidnapped last February 2012 in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi but were later brought to and held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

Dinampo said it would be difficult to seek the immediate release of the two Europeans since the Abu Sayyaf were demanding P50-million ransom for each captive.

Dinampo also confirmed the Abu Sayyaf have taken hostage Gao Hua Yuan, a tourist from Shanghai, China, and Filipina Marcelita Dayawan. The two were seized by gunmen from Semporna island resort in Sabah and taken to Sulu on April 2.

He said the gunmen brought Gao and Dayawan to Bud Taran in Talipao town and turned them over to the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Amad Aji.

Dinampo said Aji is one of the original Abu Sayyaf militants who raided Sipadan Island in Sabah in 2000 and took 21 hostages – two Filipino resort workers, nine Malaysians and 10 Europeans.

When asked why the Abu Sayyaf returned to kidnapping, Dinampo said: “They need money. And secondly, they craved the thrill of getting a big ransom.”

He said the Abu Sayyaf gained notoriety in the Sipadan kidnapping where they got a hefty ransom in US dollars.

According to Dinampo, the Abu Sayyaf are targeting Malay and Chinese tourists from Semporna because it is near Sulu.

Dinampo said he relayed the information to the police and military because he wanted to prevent such incidents from occurring so as not to give Sulu a bad image again.

“The police took my advice but the military seems to have ignored it, for what reason I don’t know,” he said.

The Sulu provincial police, however, said they are verifying Dinampo’s information.


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