MANILA – Jordanian journalist, Baker Atyani, who went missing on June 2012 is still unaccounted for, Sulu Police provincial director Sr. Supt. Antonio Freyra said on Tuesday.
Atyani, a journalist for the Al Arabiyah network, and his 2 Filipino cameramen were abducted by terrorist group Abu Sayyaf while doing a story in Sulu.
The 2 cameramen, Ramelito Vela and Rolando Letrero, were released Saturday night.
However, Freyra said they have yet to receive confirmation whether or not Atyani has also been released.
“Since na-release ang dalawang cameramen, ibig sabihin ay si Atyani, na hindi pa naman naa-account, patuloy pa din naming hinahanap, maaaring nasa pangangalaga pa din nila or maaari ding nakalabas na pero hindi pa natin naa-account,” Freyra told dzMM.
Freyra linked the fighting of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to the release of the cameramen.
He said the MNLF has been negotiating for the release of the hostages, but the two groups failed to come to an agreement.
The MNLF and Abu Sayyaf clashed on Saturday, February 3, resulting to the deaths of at least 21 individuals.
According to Freyra, 8 were killed from the MNLF side while 13 were killed from Abu Sayyaf.
He noted that the hostilities between the two sides have ceased since Saturday, which also forced around 300 families to flee their homes.
“May balitang nandoon pa din ang Abu Sayyaf pero tahimik at walang putukan sa ngayon,” said Freyra.
Freyra said police operations are ongoing in the region to capture members of the terrorist group, which allegedly have in their custody 2 Europeans and a Japanese.
However, Freyra said they have been very careful in dealing with the group to ensure the safety of the hostages.
“Sa pagtugis ng Abu Sayyaf, delikado sa parte ng mga hostages ‘yun. So kailangan iyan ay masusing pag-aaral at preparasyon. May tinatawag tayong mga element of surprise kung talagang ‘yan ay ating ire-rescue sapagkat kailangan din na may green light mula sa mataas na opisina,” he said.