Sri Lankan's peace group: 'We don't pay ransom'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2009 10:27 AM | Updated as of Feb 15 2009 03:54 AM

A peace group insisted Friday that it will not pay ransom for the release of its Sri Lankan member, who was kidnapped in Lamitan City, Basilan province.

"Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) does not pay ransom," the organization said in a statement posted on their website hours after the kidnapping of its member, Umar Jaleel, from the group's residence in Barangay Maloong.

The group also urged military and police teams pursuing the kidnappers to "seek a nonviolent return" of the Sri Lankan peace worker.

The NP said its team in Sri Lanka is working with its people in Mindanao in informing Jaleel's family about the developments in the latest kidnapping in Basilan.

It said its people are doing all they can for the safe return of Jaleel, whom the group described as an international peacekeeper and not a "Muslim religious preacher."

Jaleel was fast asleep when at least nine young gunmen, forcibly entered the organization's residence in Barangay Maloong, around 2:30 a.m.

Police said the victim has a Sri Lankan companion who also lives in the office. The victim's companion, however, was out of the country.

Basilan Vice-Governor Al-Rasheed Sakalahul told ANC Friday that the gunmen also tried to abduct the Sri Lankan's armed bodyguard but failed. He said the bodyguard resisted and fired shots at the kidnappers.

The kidnappers forced Umar into a waiting van and sped off to an unknown direction, the vice-governor said.

Sakalahul said the kidnappers were young-looking and were armed with high-powered guns, based on statements from the other occupants of the house. He said the house was also ransacked by the bandits.

Police have yet to determine the kidnappers' affiliation.