Army denies kidnapping of 4 persons in Maguindanao

December 16, 2009 1:59 pm 

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Dec. 16 – The Army's 6th Infantry Division on Wednesday clarified reports about the alleged kidnapping of four persons in Maguindanao.

Reports have it that four farmers were taken as hostages and used as human shields by gunmen believed to be followers of the Ampatuan clan in Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanao.

“No kidnapping in Maguindanao as claimed by other media outlets," Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce, 6th ID spokesperson, said.

"The four people reported to have been kidnapped by gunmen were actually accompanying soldiers into a secluded area to perform security missions there," he said.

Ponce said the four volunteered to act act as guides of soldiers hunting down CVOs who have not surrendered yet.

The four, whom he did not identify, have already returned home.

Ponce said the four men were asked to guide soldiers into a secluded area somewhere near the border of Shariff Aguak, the hometown of the Ampatuan clan, and Datu Abdullah Sangki, whose mayor is a relative of Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

“Operations are still ongoing there. Soldiers are still searching for hidden arms cache and armed followers of the Ampatuans,” Ponce said.

He explained that the soldiers now assigned in Maguindanao are new to the area and are not familiar with the terrain so they sought help for the locals.

Ponce said small groups of followers of the Ampatuans have been roaming at interior barangays of Maguindanao’s adjoining Mamasapano, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi and Datu Abdullah Sangki towns.

"Units on the ground have reported that they experience warning shots and sniper shots presumably from CVOs loyal to the Ampatuans," Ponce said.

"Sometimes they fire automatic weapons towards patrolling soldiers and run away as fast as they can, as if trying to show that they are still in the area,” Ponce said.

Since the government placed the entire province under military rule for a week, Ponce said there was no major encounter yet between armed followers of the Ampatuan and pursuing soldiers.

State forces are still pursuing followers of Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr following the massacre of 57 people in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao. (PNA)

LAP/NYP/EOF

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