Philippine Forces Kill Suspect in 2016 Abu Sayyaf Abduction of Indonesians

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
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ph-militant-killed620 Ferdinand Lavin (center), deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation, and other officials present arrested Abu Sayyaf Group militant suspects during a press conference in Manila, June 11, 2019.

A suspected Abu Sayyaf militant, who was wanted for involvement in the 2016 abduction of six Indonesian fishing crew members, died in a shootout with government forces in southern Zamboanga Sibugay province over the weekend, Philippine police said Monday.

Members of the police’s Special Action Force killed the suspect, Salip Adzhar Alijam, when he opened fire during a raid in Tungawan town on Saturday, regional police director Brig. Gen. Jesus Cambay told BenarNews.

“The suspect fired at the approaching police forces, which triggered a brief shootout that resulted in his death,” Cambay said.

The security forces’ operation was based on a warrant issued against Aijam for illegal possession of explosives. He was also known by the aliases Aya and Alip Adjal Hamsa Grandad.

A sidearm and other weapons, including a fragmentation grenade and ammunition, were recovered from the slain suspect.

Cambay said Alijam was a militant from the Abu Sayyaf faction led by Alhabsy Misaya, whose group was behind cross-border raids and kidnappings in nearby Malaysian waters. Misaya was slain in a clash with troops three years ago.

One of the six Indonesian captives, Herman bin Manggak, had positively identified Alijam as being among the Abu Sayyaf men who kidnapped them in August 2016 in waters in Sabah, a state in Malaysian Borneo. The kidnappers took the captives to the Sulu archipelago, a stronghold of the militants in the far southern Philippines.

The Indonesians were among a dozen hostages kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf in 2015 and 2016. Three westerners – Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – were also held hostage, along with a Filipino woman.

Sekkingstad and the woman were later freed separately after reportedly paying an undisclosed amount of ransom, but Hall and Ridsdel were beheaded by the kidnappers after their relatives refused to pay the ransom.

Manggak and the other Indonesians were either released or escaped.

The waters that separate the southern Philippines from next-door neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia have been notorious for kidnappings carried out at sea by Abu Sayyaf militants.

The last such case was the Jan. 16 abduction of five Indonesians in waters off an island in Sabah. An Abu Sayyaf faction is currently holding four of them captive, while a fifth Indonesian, identified as La Baa, was slain in September by his captors.

On Sept. 30, three suspected Abu Sayyaf members, including one involved in the abduction of the fishermen, surrendered to government troops in Sulu.

Since 2016, at least 54 Indonesian nationals have been targeted in 16 maritime kidnappings, including in Sabah waters, an official at the Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier this year.

In 2017, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesian launched trilateral patrols aimed at preventing acts of piracy and kidnappings at sea along their common maritime boundaries.


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