Philippines: Militant involved in mass abduction seized Suspect among Abu Sayyaf members with role in kidnapping dozens from schools in March 2000, say police

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AA) – Philippine security forces have captured a member of an al-Qaeda-linked militant group notorious for his role in the kidnapping of teachers and students in the country’s south in 2000.

Police Supt. Albert Larubis, director of Isabela City police, said in a report Sunday that Abdullah Asalin — also known as Abs — was arrested at 2.20 p.m. (0620GMT) Saturday in the capital of southern Basilan province.

“He is now under the custody of Regional Intelligence Division Police Regional Office 9 for documentation and proper disposition,” Larubis added.

According to the police and military, Asilan was among the Abu Sayyaf members who had a role in the kidnapping of around 50 students and teachers from two schools in Tumahubong village, Sumisip town, in March 2000.

Among the victims were three male teachers and a priest found dead the following May. Their bodies reportedly showed signs of torture and the clergyman had been beheaded.

Meanwhile, Sr. Insp. Allan Castillo, police public information officer, said they had identified the suspects behind a recent abduction of two teachers in Zamboanga Sibugay province to be Abu Sayyaf members.

The victims — a brother and sister — were riding a motorcycle to an elementary school Thursday in the coastal town of Talusan when they were captured by six men on board two motorcycles. They were then forced onto a pump boat that sped off toward an unknown direction.

Of the suspects, four have been identified — including three who are brothers.

Police and military personnel have been dispatched to the municipality to prevent abductors from smuggling their victims out of the province.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

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