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PALACE SAYS

Jordanian scribe in hands of Sayyaf – palace

Baker Atyani

Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani (AP Photo/Nickee Butlangan)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed on Monday that Jordanian journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani is in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo.

“What we can confirm is that he is in the hands of the ASG,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said of Atyani, bureau chief of the Al-Arabiya television network in Southeast Asia.

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But as to whether Atyani was being held hostage by the group, Lacierda said the Palace has “no confirmation as to that effect.”

“What we can confirm is that he went there voluntarily to interview the ASG,” he said, adding that it was likewise confirmed that Atyani “has in another occasion had the opportunity to interview the ASG head previously.”

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Atyani and two Filipino companions had gone missing since June 12 when they were last seen leaving their hostel in Jolo in the early hours with several persons.

Lacierda said that Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan has formed a crisis committee and will be in charge of the case of Atyani.

He also said Atyani, who is here for a reporting job, was offered security by Tan but that the journalist had refused.

At present, it was Tan who is dealing with the ASG and that they’re in discussions,” according to the Palace spokesperson.

Asked whether this incident meant that there is a resurgence of the ASG in Jolo, he said that this was not the case as he reminded that Atyani was the one who decided to interview the ASG.

“So as to what the intentions of the ASG when they agreed to be interviewed, that’s beyond our comprehension,” he said.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Features, Global Nation, Kidnapping
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