1 of 3 children taken hostage in Zambo Sur found dead

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/03 April) – One of the three children who were seized Tuesday in Pitogo town in Zamboanga del Sur by suspected kidnappers was found dead Friday morning.

Zynielle Jay Garban, 2, a grandchild of Pitogo Mayor Richard Garban, was plucked out from the sea by fishermen near the town’s shore around 8 a.m., Senior Supt. Sofronio Ecaldre, Zamboanga del Sur police director said.

Ecaldre said the fishermen brought to Pitogo the child’s body, which was positively identified by the victim’s family.

Garban, her three-year-old elder brother, Ace Jay, and bakery worker Ledegie Tomarong, 17, were seized by 10 gunmen during a shootout around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the fish port in Barangay Poblacion, Pitogo.

The shootout ensued as policemen pursued the gunmen who tried but failed to seize their target, businesswoman Chzarenia Kapa Sajulga, who owns a bakery in downtown Pitogo.

The gunmen made good their escape as they grabbed the three children, who were at the fish port, and made them as human shields preventing the policemen from further pursuing them.

Ecaldre said investigation showed that the victim, who bore contusions in the neck, was apparently strangled to death and thrown into the sea.

He said policemen and soldiers were tracking down the whereabouts of the other hostages.

The gunmen, who escaped aboard two motorized bancas, sped towards Zamboanga Sibugay province. (MindaNews)