MNLF linked to abduction of 2 foreigners

by Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Feb 12 2012 12:22 AM | Updated as of Feb 12 2012 10:37 PM

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Police said they identified a group of young members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as possible suspects in the abduction of two Europeans in Tawi-Tawi more than a week ago.

Police Director Felicisimo Khu, Jr., director of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO), said there are indications that Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra were taken by third generation members of the MNLF in Tawi-Tawi.

Khu said a possible motive is jealousy among the locals. "These foreign birdwatchers when they go to the area, hire locals to serve as their guides and security." Khu said. "One group was denied."

Khu said they are giving the provincial government of Tawi-Tawi time to negotiate with the abductors, who are said to be still hiding in Panglima Sugala town. "Governor Sahali is sending an emissary," Khu revealed.

The police officer also showed to the news team a copy of the email sent by a certain Mustapha Muallam, using Ivan Sarenas' hacked email address, to the group of birdwatchers, where Sarenas is a member.

Muallam, who identified himself as one of the abductors, demanded for the pull-out of police and military operatives in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. "But when he was asked to present proof of life of the victims, he was not able to comply."

Khu believes Muallam is "someone who is merely trying to confuse things."