2 women freed after 8 months in Abu Sayyaf hands

by Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Feb 20 2014 11:51 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2014 03:39 PM

SULU – Sisters Nadjoua and Linda Bansil, who were abducted 8 months ago by the Abu Sayyaf, were rescued by the military and police in Sitio Kantatang, Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The rescue was conducted via a joint special operation by elements of Marine Battalion Landing Team-6, Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 and 2nd Marine Brigade and Sulu Police Provincial Office with efforts from Sulu Vice Governor Sakur Tan.

According to Col. Jojo Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, there was no exchange of gunfire between the Abu Sayyaf and the authorities during the operation.

“Ang nangyari, parang naipit ang Abu Sayyaf, just like what happened in previous (kidnapping) instances, iniwanan na lang nila ang kidnap victims,” he said.

Cenabre told dzMM that the Abu Sayyaf initially demanded P3 million for the release of the sisters, who are independent filmmakers.

'Sold out' by contacts?

The Bansil sisters are believed to have been "sold out" by their contacts in the province to their captors. They were abducted on June 21, 2013.

Professor Octavio Dinampo, also a kidnap victim, earlier said whatever the real reason for the Bansils' presence in Sulu, the common denominator is that, "they have contacts in Sulu and that is the Tausug Citizens of Sulu."

Dinampo named a certain Isa Tahan as the leader of the Tausug Citizens of Sulu, who reportedly served as the host of the Bansil sisters.

Dinampo said it was Tahan who escorted the victims to Barangay Kabuntakas in Patikul, where they stayed the night of their abduction.

The following day, as the filmmakers along with Tahan and 16 others were on their way back to Jolo town, they were flagged down by a group of armed men led by Nenok Sapari.

Dinampo believes the abduction was well-planned.

"The group was there at a specific time and place and purpose. There are some members of the group that could have sold them out," he said.

"It is actually what happened also to Atyani, who walked into the trap," Dinampo said. "After trusting their contact too much." -- with reports from Rod Izon, dzMM