News blackout imposed on status of 3 kidnapped foreigners in Mindanao

Zamboanga (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - For now, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is withholding any further information about the status of three kidnapped foreigners, who were earlier reported to already be in the MNLF custody in south Philippines.

This, after Emmanuel Fontanillas, spokesperson of the MNLF who was first to talk about the three foreigners in MNLF custody, said their founding chair Nur Misuari would be flying back to Jolo, Sulu, to see for himself what has been reported from the field.

"He will be looking at the report personally. Hopefully, this coming week he will be in Jolo to find out what really happened," Fontanillas said

Last week, Fontanillas announced that the three foreign hostages were already in the custody of the MNLF forces and would be turned over to Misuari.

Misuari was in Cairo, Egypt, when Fontanillas made the announcement about the release of the hostages. He said Misuari was supposed to formally announce the rescue of the foreigners on February 10, but three days after Misuari's arrival from Cairo, the MNLF said that it was imposing a news blackout as the MNLF was still negotiating for the release of captives in Sulu.

The report on the supposed rescue of the three foreign hostages, who were not identified, first came out following days of clashes between MNLF forces and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.

At least 26 combatants from both sides had reportedly been killed but the MNLF suffered further humiliation when Abu sayyaf bandits beheaded eight of its forces.

The Abu Sayyaf in Sulu is still holding European bird watchers Dutchman Ewold Horn and Swiss national Lorenzo Vinceguerra; and Japanese treasure hunter Mamaito Katayama.

Another foreigner, Australian Richard Warren Rodwell, is also believed to be held by the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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