Norwegian ASG captive now in custody of Presidential Peace Adviser Dureza
By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has confirmed the transfer of former Norwegian Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) captive Kjartn Sekkingstand to Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus “Jess” Dureza on Sunday afternoon.
“For info, we confirm the transfer to Secretary Dureza of the Norwegian kidnap victim and the arrival of the released three Indonesian at Headquarters of Joint Task Force-Sulu under Brig. Gen . Arnel Dela Vega. Secretary Dureza and party are on their way now to Davao from Jolo. They left around 2:40 p.m.,” AFP spokesperson Brig.Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
Meanwhile, the three Indonesians who were also freed on Saturday will be flown to Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City where they will be met by WMC head Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo Dela Cruz, he added.
Sekkingstand was freed in Sulu around 4:00 p.m. Saturday. The former was abducted together with John Ridsel, Robert Hall and Marites Flor on Sept. 21, 2015 at the Ocean View Resort in Samal Island.
Both Hall and Ridsell were beheaded by the bandits while Flor was freed by the ASG last June 22.
Meanwhile, troops of the 601st Infantry Brigade under Col. Cirilito E. Sobejana, Jr. encountered at 5:00 p.m. Saturday alleged members of a private armed group believed to be under a certain “Mayor Sangki” at Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.
The encounter resulted in the recovery of high-powered firearms including one M-60 machine gun; one M-203; five M-14 rifles; and more than 4,600 rounds of ammunition including 15 rounds of 81mm mortar, three rounds of 60mm mortar, and 14 rounds of 40mm grenades, three rounds of rifle grenade, 8 rounds of ammunition for 12-gauge shotgun, improvised four-cap automatic grenade launcher, and a commercial handheld radio.
The discovery and confiscation of this large cache of arms and ammunition and a big number of explosives and ordnance that may be converted to improvised explosive devises (IEDs) is an enormous accomplishment.
“Where if not for the vigilance and unrelenting performance of duty by our troops, the possible occurrence of explosions that could cause lives and injuries could not have been prevented,” Dela Vega said.
For his part, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said, “The multi-dimensional role of the AFP and the multi-faceted challenges that the Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command face in their areas of operation do not stop us from delivering results in the name of peace and security.” (PNA)