MNLF offers help to secure release of Sayyaf hostages
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2013 - 4:15pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines  - The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu has offered help to secure the release of two Tausug independent film-maker sisters taken captive by Abu Sayyaf militants, an official said here.

The MNLF also requested the military and police to halt any operations and allow negotiations to secure the release of the  hostages.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, chairman of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council (ICC), said the MNLF has  been exerting efforts to seek the release of Nadjoua and Linda Bansil who are believed to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf group.

“We are appealing to the group, whoever, they are, be they are from the Abu Sayyaf to please ly release the victims on humanitarian grounds,” Hashim said.

The Bansils, daughter of a Tausug imam (Muslim preacher) but have Morrocan blood through their mother, were abducted last Saturday morning in Barangay Liang, Patikul town while filming for a documentary in Sulu.

The Bansils were among the nominees of the 2013 Gawad Urian Arawads for the film ‘Bohe – Sons of the Waves’ (a short film about the Muslim sea gypsy) that also got a similar nomination from Cinemalaya Awards.

Hashim said they  will exhaust all peaceful means to convince the Abu Sayyaf group to free the victims unharmed.

The MNLF and Abu Sayyaf had clashed previously when the former was exerting efforts to  free Jordanian Baker Atyani.

The fighting left close to a dozen MNLF fighters and 19 Abu Sayyaf dead in a series of encounters in Patikul town. Atyani, however, remains an Abu Sayyaf captive.

Atyani  was abducted on June 13 last year along with two Filipino television crewmen, who were freed in February.

Hashim believed that not all MNLF members fought the Abu Sayyaf group.

“The situation in Sulu is different from Basilan and we are trying to find ways to convince the abductors to release the victims,” Hashim added.

Hashim also appealed to the government forces to halt any operation that would endanger the lives of the captives.

“We would like to request the military not to conduct operation," Hashim said.   - Roel Pareño

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