Kidnapped engineer released in Sulu
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – An engineer who was kidnapped along with his wife in Jolo, Sulu in February was released on Sunday evening, April 19.
Bonifacio "Bonnie" Salinas, an engineer working for the Jolo Water District, is now with his family after he was freed by his captors at around 8 pm, according to police.
The couple were abducted by 5 unidentified armed men, suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group, in Kasalamatan Village, Brgy San Raymundo in Jolo last February 16, the police said. His wife, Claire, was released ahead of him – on March 21.
Second Marine Brigade spokersperson Capt Ryan Lacuestasaid the gunmen released Salinas on a mountainous roadside Saturday night. "He was instructed to walk towards the direction of the Jolo airport. He met some civilians on his way who helped him contact the Marines brigade headquarters," Lacuesta said.
"Engineer Salinas has been reunited with his family," Lacuesta said. He said it "there is no information" on whether a ransom was paid, or who the abductors were.
Salinas could not be reached for comment.
Kidnappings in the region have been largely blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, a small gang of self-styled Islamic militants founded in the 1990s with seed money from Al-Qaeda, according to the police and the military.
The rag-tag group of about 300 militants operates out of jungle terrain on Jolo and nearby islands.
Local armed forces have been hunting them down with aid from US military intelligence, but the group has managed to survive by hiding among remote poor communities that for years have been fertile grounds for recruitment.
An Abu Sayyaf unit early this month raided a dive resort across the sea border in Sabah, Malaysia, and kidnapped a Chinese tourist and a Filipina resort worker.
The captors have demanded a ransom of $11 million for the tourist with negotiations done through intermediaries.
The Philippine government has a no-ransom policy although it is widely known that all kidnapping victims are freed by paying what the military and Abu Sayyaf euphemistically call "board and lodging payment."
Apart from the two kidnapped from Sabah, the Abu Sayyaf is also believed to be holding Dutchman Ewold Horn and Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, who were kidnapped in July 2010 while on a birding expedition.
Japanese national Amer Mamaito Katayama also kidnapped in July remains in captivity. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com