2 abducted bird watchers in Sulu, says gov
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Two European bird watchers who were abducted by Abu Sayyaf members in Tawi-tawi in February have been moved to Sulu, according to Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali.
Sahali told the Inquirer by phone that the transfer of Dutchman Ewold Horn, 52, and Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 47, as early as March was relayed to him by “friends and contacts” with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu.
This was the main reason he could not provide updates on the kidnapping, he said.
Horn and Vinciguerra, along with Filipino bird watcher Ivan Sarenas, were abducted while heading back in a boat to Bongao town after bird watching activities on Panglima Sugala town. Sarenas was able to escape while two other Filipinos, the boat’s operator and a local official serving as their guide, were allowed to go home.
As head of the crisis management committee, Sahali said the case was no longer under his jurisdiction. “I no longer handle the crisis.” he said.
But Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra, Sulu police chief, said he could not affirm the governor’s claim. “The two Europeans are not here in Sulu, we have validated this information several times,” he said.
“Here in Sulu, it would be difficult to hide the arrival of any nonresident, especially foreigners. But they are not here,” Freyra said.
Sahali said he believed his own sources, citing other indications that the captives were no longer in Tawi-Tawi. “There was no single communication established between the people I tapped to locate them and the people behind the abduction of the two foreigners,” he said.
Another indication, he said, was that the Dutch and the Swiss embassies in Manila had stopped calling him.
Freyra said the only kidnap case that the police were handling was that of airport employee Carlos Tee, 62, who was seized on April 7. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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