"This is the first time our troops discovered that the Abu Sayyaf has put up a steady camp,"
November 9, 2000, The Philippine Star, Abu Sayyaf camp seized, by Roel Pareño,
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Soldiers captured a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf in heavy fighting in Indanan, Sulu, but did not find either of the two hostages, including an American, still being held by the extremist guerrillas, a military official said yesterday. Army Scout Rangers stormed the Abu Sayyaf camp last Tuesday and seized it after a 30-minute battle, Col. Hilario Atendido, spokesman of the Armed Forces' Southern Command said.
Atendido said the Scout Rangers, belonging to the 11th and 17th Scout Ranger Companies, suffered no casualties, but some of the rebels may have been killed or wounded and dragged away by their comrades as indicated by bloodstains left from their retreat into the forests in Indanan.
"This is the first time our troops discovered that the Abu Sayyaf has put up a steady camp," Atendido said. At the Abu Sayyaf camp, he said the Rangers found seven bunkers with running trenches and recovered combat packs, bandoliers, foodstuff, kitchen utensils and personal belongings.
Maj. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, Southcom chief, said an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, launched Sept. 16 to rescue an earlier 19 hostages, will continue even after the two remaining captives are rescued. "We want to teach them a lesson," Camiling said. "They have no way out but to surrender."
Seventeen of the hostages have been recovered, leaving only American Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino dive master Roland Ullah still in Abu Sayyaf hands. Ullah, the longest-held hostage, was seized in April along with 20 other tourists and workers from the Malaysian resort of Sipadan and brought to Sulu. The rebels later abducted scores of other hostages, including Schilling, a 24-year-old Muslim convert from Oakland, California. The other Sipadan hostages were released in separate groups in exchange for more than $15 million in ransom, hostage negotiators said. — With AP