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Before Duterte's visit to Sulu, Abu Sayyaf takes 5 new hostages

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 7/15/2017 Roel Pareño
The abduction of a new batch of hostages took place barely hours before the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the military camp in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, at the southern tip of the Philippines. Bing Maps © Philstar.com The abduction of a new batch of hostages took place barely hours before the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the military camp in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, at the southern tip of the Philippines. Bing Maps

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen defied warnings of President Duterte in seizing five construction workers and demanding P1 million for each in ransom in Jolo, Sulu.

The abduction of a new batch of hostages took place barely hours before the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the military camp in Jolo. Duterte has a standing order to the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf group.

The victims were identified as Edmundo Ramos, Jayson Baylosis, Joker Adanza and Jun Guerrero, who are residents of Barangay Tumaga. The fifth victim was only identified to be a resident of Barangay Pasonanca in Zamboanga.

Police authorities and relatives of the victims disclosed that the workers were asleep when the armed Abu Sayyaf militants barged into their staff house around 2 a.m. in Barangay Martirez.

The supposed sixth victim, Larry Velasquez, managed to escape but was wounded on his leg early on Saturday.

Relatives of the victims disclosed that the gunmen identified themselves to as members of the Abu Sayyaf's "Ajang-ajang" group. The suspects called them around  1 p.m. on Saturday to demand the P1 million ransom for each of the hostages.

Police and military personnel were tracking down the militants for possible rescue of the hostages.

A Jolo local official said the Abu Sayyaf's "Ajang-Ajang" arm has been staging a series of low-profile abductions, taking victims for a day before releasing them in exchange for lesser amount considered as "tokens."

The official said most of the cases are not reported to police and military since "tokens" are arranged immediately within the day. The government, however, has a no-ransom policy for hostages, as the money could fuel criminal activities by the bandit group.

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