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PAGADIAN CITY – A rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been linked to the kidnapping of a 70-year old British man, Allan Arthur Hyrons, and his Filipina wife, Welma Paglinawan, in Tukuran town in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur.

Professor Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, has told the Malaysian newspaper Daily Express that the couple was spotted in Upper Maladig village in Lanao del Norte’s Sultan Gumander town and being held by at least 8 gunmen led by MILF leader Abdul Alip on the same day they were abducted, October 4.

Banlaoi said the couple may have been handed over to the Abu Sayyaf because of Alip’s links to the terror group. There were reports that the kidnappers demanded P50 million for the safe release of the victims. “The Hyrons are now believed to be under the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu province. However, it is also possible that the couple is being held in other areas. The couple was previously seen on board a fast craft that docked in the coastal Barangay of Picong, Sultan Naga Dimaporo municipality, Lanao del Norte province on October 4.”

“On the same day, the Hyrons were seen in Barangay Upper Maladig, Sultan Gumander, also in Lanao del Norte while being guarded by eight armed members of the Moro kidnap for ransom group led by a certain Abdul Alip who is known to be a rogue MILF leader who has links with ASG leaders in Basilan. This is from ground sources validated by intelligence sources,” he said.

Police said the couple was seized by 6 armed men on the night of October 4 shortly after they arrived at their resort in Alindahaw village. The abductors dragged away the victims to the sea where a motorized boat was waiting and then escaped under cover of darkness.

A caretaker at the resort has confirmed that two of the suspects rented a cottage. Aside from the resort, the couple also owns the Hyrons College in the town.

Provincial Governor Victor Yu pledged to give P1 million reward to anyone who could point the exact location of the abductors. The British Embassy in Manila expressed concern over the safety of Hyrons.

The embassy appealed to the Philippine media to “possibly refrain from posting or take down any news coverage related to this as it could possibly jeopardize the welfare of those involved.” The kidnappings occurred during an extended martial law in the South where security forces are battling Muslim extremist groups and communist rebels in the restive region. (Zamboanga Post)

 

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