MANILA, Philippines – A community health worker was abducted by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu Monday afternoon, March 19, supposedly to treat wounded bandits, according to a military officer based in the island-province.
Col Jose Johnriel Cenabre, commander of the Jolo-based Joint Task Force-Comet (JTF-Comet), identified the victim as Roselyn Kiram, supposedly a volunteer midwife of a local chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).
Kiram, along with 5 other health workers, were traveling in Patikul town on board a passenger jeep when they were flagged down by an unidentified armed group in Barangay Liang around 3pm Monday.
But only Kiram was taken by the suspects, who fled toward the direction of Barangay Tugas.
“The armed men could have taken the victim to treat their wounded comrades,” Cenabre said, pointing out that the ASG “suffered a number of casualties” during an encounter with Marine troops in Barangay Latih, Patikul, over the weekend.
An ASG faction led by a certain Tahil Salih has been “harassing” Barangay Latih for quite some time now, prompting residents to seek military intervention, which eventually led to a firefight last Sunday. At least 2 bandits were “seriously wounded” in the clash, AFP intelligence reports said.
Cenabre said that the local crisis management committee has dispatched emissaries to locate the abductors and initiate a negotiation to “peacefully release” their captive without any concessions.
In August last year, a midwife married to a former soldier was also abducted in Indanan town. Armed men seized her while she was on her way home from a rural health unit. She was released two months later.
A number of civilians remain in captivity in different parts of Western Mindanao, including an Australian national and two Europeans. Authorities have opted to impose a “news blackout” on efforts to free the hostages. – Rappler.com