Kidnapped Swiss birdwatcher escapes from Abu Sayyaf – AFP
The military in October stepped up law enforcement operations in Sulu and Basilan to end the threat of the Abu Sayyaf Group, which is notorious for its kidnap-for-ransom activities.
The military and another subgroup led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan – who was behind the kidnapping of two German hostages freed in October – also clashed after Vinciguerra's escape. Five bandits were killed and 7 were wounded, according to the military.
Padilla confirmed the Abu Sayyaf made demands on the family of Vinciguerra but he reiterated the government's "no ransom" policy.
Vinciguerra and Dutch national Ewold Horn were snatched by armed men while birdwatching in the village of Pangaran, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi in February 2012.
Sources told Rappler at the time that the two were eventually brought to Abu Sayyaf leader Yasser Igasan in Sulu. Their transfer from Tawi-Tawi to Patikul, Sulu, was allegedly coordinated by Moro National Liberation Front commander Tahil Sali and Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron.
Filipino birdwatcher Ivan Sarenas, who was with them during the kidnapping, was not taken away by the armed men after he jumped from the motorboat and swam to the nearest island. (READ: Birds, adventure and kidnapping in Tawi-Tawi) – with reports from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com