(UPDATED) The military and the group of Abu Sayyaf subleader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan also clash after the escape of Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The military and police said one of the two European birdwatchers kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi nearly 3 years ago escaped from his captors and reportedly killed one of them early morning Saturday, December 6.
Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, who was flown to Camp Zamboanga City early afternoon Saturday, claimed he decided to fight back and escape while government forces were pounding with artillery fire an Abu Sayyaf camp in Sitio Nangka, Barangay Kulambu in the town of Talipao at around 7:30 am.
“He is out of danger and he is safe,” said Armed Forces spokesperson Colonel Restituto Padilla.
Vinciguerra supposedly grabbed the bolo knife of an Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Juhurim Hussein and hacked him in the neck.
“While the troops were conducting their operations, Mr Vinciguerra found an opportunity that allowed him to get one of his captors’ bladed weapon and he attacked his guard, inflicting wounds on the guard that allowed him to run to a safe area,” said Padilla.
A separate police report said Hussein died, while Vinciguerra is being treated for wounds on his face.
The police said the Swiss also tried but failed to wrestle with another kidnapper armed with an M203. But he succeeded in getting away until he was rescued by Army Scout Rangers conducting law enforcement operations in the area, the military, quoting Vinciguerra, said.
The other birdwatcher, Dutch national Ewold Horn, remains with the Abu Sayyaf. The two birdwatchers were held by separate Abu Sayyaf subgroups.
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
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