PATIKUL, Sulu — The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is verifying reports from its sources that Jordanian television journalist Baker Atyani had been released by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as MNLF combatants overran the bandits’ camp here on Thursday.
A source of the Manila Bulletin said the Abu Sayyaf had released Atyani on February 1 at 6 p.m. in Parang-Parang, a coastal area near Quezon Beach in Patikul, Sulu.
Six armed men wearing bonnets arrived in a two-engine (250 horse power each) speed boat in Parang-Parang to fetch Atyani that night, one day ahead of the release of his two Filipino camera crewmen – Roland Letrero and Ramelito Vela, the source said.
Authorities neither confirmed nor denied the report, but MNLF leader Ustadz Habier Malik said he “received the same information.”
Asked if he had also received information that Atyani was released by the Abu Sayyaf in exchange of a P100-million ransom, Malik said he also received information that a huge amount of money was withdrawn by the Abu Sayyaf from a bank in Jolo, Sulu that same day.
The MNLF leader added that it could be the reason why they found many dwellings with comfort rooms and water pipe connections at the ASG camp, but failed to find “any traces of Atyani.”