ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A foreman currently being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf was able to call his relatives and confirmed that at least two foreigners were among the present captives of the bandits.
Remegio Lingayan, 50, managed to call his wife Analiza on Thursday afternoon, saying the Abu Sayyaf has five hostages, including him and two others who look like foreigners.
Mrs. Lingayan said her husband told her that the two foreign-looking captives were being kept away from the other hostages.
She appealed to President Aquino to help them get her husband back.
Mrs. Lingayan said her husband was reportedly wounded while her brother-in-law Joselito Gonzales was killed during the encounter between the Marines and the militants in Patikul, Sulu on Thursday.
Authorities earlier reported that the Abu Sayyaf was holding captive European bird watchers Elwold Horn and Lorenzo Vinceguerre who were snatched in Tawi-Tawi in February 2012.
Two Germans, Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and his female companion, Herike Diesen, 55, who were initially reported missing while sailing on their yacht near Rio Tubbataha off Puerto Prinsesa City in Palawan last April, were also reportedly being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul.
Aside from the four Europeans, the Abu Sayyaf is also holding separately two Malaysian hostages it seized from Sabah, Malaysia last May.
But Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command who visited Sulu to assess military operations there, said there were no sightings of the hostages during the encounter in Patikul.
But he confirmed reports that the hostages were being held by different factions of the Abu Sayyaf.
Guerrero said there was also no confirmation on the ground that one of the hostages was killed.
During the offensive, at least seven Marines, including a junior officer, were killed while 24 others were wounded. At least 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits were also killed. – With Jaime Laude