Abu Sayyaf releases trader

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The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits have released the trader they kidnapped almost a year ago in this city, a military official announced Wednesday.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said the victim-trader, Araji Maani, was released around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Wanih Piyanjihan, Parang, Sulu.

Tan said the ASG brigands kidnapped Maani on July 27, 2015 in this city and was taken to the province of Sulu.

Tan did not say whether or not ransom was paid in exchange for the release of Maani.

He said that counseling was conducted by Joint Task Force Sulu in coordination with Sulu Police Provincial Office and other law enforcement prior to his turnover to his family.

The release of Maani came three hours after an ASG brigand was killed in a clash with the troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Maligay, Patikul, Sulu.

Tan said the troops were conducting focused military operations when they clashed with more or less 20 ASG brigands, who are believed to be responsible for the killings of unarmed soldiers in different areas in Jolo, Sulu.

Tan said the clash lasted for about five minutes after which the ASG bandits scampered to different directions leaving behind their slain companion.

He said the troops recovered a caliber .45 pistol from the possession of the slain ASG brigand.

He said the conduct of the continued focused military operations was to pressure the Abu Sayyaf to release the remaining kidnap victims.

To date, Tan disclosed there were nine foreigners and three Filipinos believed to still be in the hands of the ASG brigands.

The foreigners included a Dutchman birdwatcher, a Norwegian and seven Indonesians.

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