June 2, 2001, Inquirer, 1,000 families flee from gov't assault on Abu Sayyaf, by Julie Alipala-Inot, Jonathan F. Ma and Carlito Pablo, Inquirer News Service, Posted: 0:36 AM (Manila Time)
Tuburan Mayor Dorie Kalahal said some 1,000 families had left their homes in Barangays Bohe Bessey, Pagengan, Semut, Canas and Upper Sinangakapan because of the ground shelling and the bombs dropped by MG-520 attack helicopters.
Kalahal said the evacuees had fled to Lamitan town, a two-hour ride away from Tuburan, and other barangays not affected by the military operations.
Hadja Yusha of Pagengan said they were forced to flee because of the bombings.
Hadji Jariya of Canas said they were terrified of soldiers and gunfire.
Another evacuee, Hadji Halil Sanan, said all they could take with them were clothing and cassava and bananas.
Abdullah Isah, who claimed to be a member of the militia civilian volunteer organization, said he and his wife Mila were injured when a 105 cannon hit their house in Barangay Sermot, Tuburan, early yesterday.
The Isahs were taken to Zamboanga City for treatment for burns.
Abdullah said his children were in the custody of the military in Basilan.
The bandits and their hostages supposedly arrived in a 70-passenger fishing boat named Victory Venture Jun 2 Fishing Corp., which was recovered in Barangay Canas around 7 a.m. yesterday.
Minjalul Salih, a coconut farmer of Canas, told the INQUIRER that about 50 fully armed men arrived in their village Thursday night.
According to some of the residents, the Abu Sayyaf's hostages were made to wear long dresses and headdresses, apparently to make identification difficult.
In a phone interview yesterday morning with Radyo Agong based in Zamboanga City, Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Sabaya confirmed the clash with government troops.
Sabaya said the hostages were taking a bath in a river when the clash occurred.
He said his group now had 30 hostages, with the addition of 10 fishermen taken while on the way to Basilan from the Dos Palmas resort.
Sabaya said the President might have thought that she had intimidated his group. He said they would continue to take more hostages even if the number reached a thousand.
It was during this interview that the supposed hostage Teresa Ganzon made an appeal to the government to suspend the military operations.
Sabaya also went on the air and claimed that two of the hostages, whom he did not name, had been killed.
Adan, however, said the military was still checking this information. With reports from Martin P. Marfil, Allan A. Nawal, Alex Young and AFP