Australian kidnap victim still alive, police say
KORONADAL CITY, Philippines—A former Australian soldier kidnapped last month is alive and being held in Basilan by a group of Abbu Sayyaf gunmen that is bigger than the band that abducted him from his home in Zamboanga Sibugay, the authorities said Thursday.
The police said that the kidnappers of Richard Warren Rodwell were also insisting on their demand for $2 million in ransom, which the Australian government had already rejected.
Rodwell, a former soldier in the Australian army who married a Filipina, was abducted by armed men from his home in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, last December 5.
A few weeks later, the kidnappers sent officials a video in which Rodwell pleaded for his life and payment of the ransom, which was relayed to the authorities for the first time through the video.
“Mr. Rodwell is still alive. There’s no substantial development as to Mr. Rodwell’s case. He is still in Basilan and the negotiation is still on going,” said Chief Superintendent Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao.
Chief Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, chief of the police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that according to the latest information they have received, Rodwell was being kept in the Sumisip area by a larger group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Radzmeer Ali.
He said the Abu Sayyaf planned to transfer Rodwell to Talipao, Sulu, and might be handed over to the group of Radulan Sahiron, one of the most notorious Abu Sayyaf leaders in Sulu and is based in Patikul. But he did not know if the plan has been carried out
Latag said the most likely reason for the transfer is that the Abu Sayyaf wants to negotiate for a higher ransom or the kidnappers simply want to evade the authorities.
Unlike Sulu, Basilan is saturated with government forces, he said.
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