Six hostages freed in Zamboanga Sibugay

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/27 July) – Armed men seized six persons in a village in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay onTuesday morning, but released the hostages on the same day after a negotiation, a police official today said.

Abducted were, Anabelle Luchavez, 31, Kennymarie Dalagan, 24, Bader Luchavez, 26, Enriqueta Perjes, 45, and two minors, including a 5-year-old girl.

Munib Aukasa, the group’s leader who has a warrant of arrest for murder and highway robbery, demanded the release of his wife whom the police arrested earlier on the same day for alleged illegal possession of firearm.

Director Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-West, said the gunmen stormed barangay Tigbanuang at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, seized six persons and brought them to the hinterlands as hostages.

Shortly before noontime, Khu said Aukasa released Dalagan and ordered her to proceed to the Tungawan police headquarters to relay his demand for his wife’s release in exchange for the freedom of the remaining hostages.

Aukasa’s wife, who was not identified, was arrested earlier on the same day by the local police for illegal possession of firearm when the lawmen went to his residence to serve his arrest warrant, Khu said.

The policemen reportedly confiscated a homemade shotgun from Aukasa’s wife, the police official said.

Aukasa, who was not at home at that time, is one of the 10 most wanted persons in Zamboanga Sibugay, Khu added.

He said Tungawan town Mayor Randy Climaco immediately convened the crisis management committee and sent Tigbanuang Barangay Kagawads Loverle Caracol and Hamin Jimlani to negotiate for the safe release of the hostages.

He said Caracol and Jimlani returned a few hours later together with the five hostages.

Police and soldiers had launched an operation against Aukasa’s group, Khu said. (MindaNews)