By Roel Pareño
Publish in Philstar
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Authorities are verifying reports that the Abu Sayyaf has demanded a P250-million ransom for the release of two Germans they kidnapped in April.
The Abu Sayyaf has also reportedly called on Germany to drop its support for the air strikes the United States is conducting against the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Police are checking what appeared to be recent photos of Stefan Viktor Okonek, 74, and Henrite Dielen, 42, which are circulating on social media.
One of the photos showed the captives kneeling beside six hooded and fully armed Abu Sayyaf bandits, with one of its members holding a machete.
Another photo showed Okonek seated inside a hut while talking on a mobile phone.
“The ransom demand obviously shows the true nature of the Abu Sayyaf as plain bandits and criminals,” Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Western Mindanao Command chief, said.
He said the Abu Sayyaf is also riding on the international attention on the ISIS.
Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, Sulu provincial police director, said they have no information on the alleged ransom demand.
He said police and military operations continue for the rescue of the two German hostages and other kidnap victims.
Okonek and Dielen were reported missing during a vacation in Palawan. Their kidnapping was confirmed by construction foreman Ronald Lingayan, a former Abu Sayyaf captive, who said he met the two Germans when he was held in the mountains of Patikul town in Sulu.
Lingayan was freed in July after 50 days in captivity.
Abu Sayyaf bandits are also holding captive two European birdwatchers, a Malaysian maritime police officer and a mother and daughter, who are Chinese.