ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to the Islamic State have captured a government soldier in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said on Friday.
Officials said Staff Sergeant Anni Siraji, of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, was seized near the village of Igasan in Patikul town on Friday. Siraji, a former Moro National Liberation Front rebel, is part of an army unit working on peace and development projects in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, said Siraji was abducted by at least 7 militants while the soldier was travelling to the village. She said the army sent soldiers to rescue Siraji in Patikul, is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf. “One platoon of soldiers was immediately sent out to pursue the militants and rescue Siraji,” she said.
Petinglay said the soldier is a native of Sulu where security forces are battling the Abu Sayyaf which is notorious for beheading their captives and behind the spate of ransom kidnappings and terrorism in the southern region.
Thousands of former MNLF fighters had been integrated to the military and police forces following the signing of a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, but many also – disgruntled with the accord – joined the Abu Sayyaf and other rebel groups in the region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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