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PHILIPPINE POLICE CONFIRMS GERMANS HELD BY ABU SAYYAP IN SULU


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Police in Sulu have confirmed that German nationals Dr. Stefan Victor Okonek and Henrite Dielen were now in the hands of an Abu Sayyaf unit in Indanan town. 
Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, Sulu provincial police chief, made the confirmation in a telephone interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday after a photo of the Germans in the company of Filipino gunmen surfaced on Facebook.
He said the group holding Okonek, 74, and Dielen, 42, was headed by  one Alhabshi Misaya in Indanan.
  • In the undated photo taken in an undetermined location, the Germans are shown holding the German flag. They are flanked by about a dozen Abu Sayyaf gunmen wearing scarves.
  • It was not clear who took the photo, in which Dielen is seen clad in a purple long-sleeved shirt and Okonek in a gray shirt.
  • Orbita said the photo that the authorities had also come across was posted on the Facebook account of one Ayman Mat. A check by the Inquirer showed that particular Facebook user was based in Kuwait.
  • “That photo is one of the several pictures and videos we know are being spread around,” Orbita said.
  • He said the authorities believed that the Abu Sayyaf had spread the video and the photos.
  • While Orbita confirmed that the photo posted on Facebook was authentic and that the Abu Sayyaf was holding the couple, a military official said he was not aware of it.
  • Okonek and Dielen were conducting scientific research off Palawan when they disappeared in April.
Even then, there were already suspicions that they had been abducted and that the Abu Sayyaf was behind their disappearance. 
The first to disclose the presence of the Germans in Sulu was peace advocate Octavio Dinampo in May.
Dinampo, also a former Abu Sayyaf captive, said the Abu Sayyaf faction under Radulan Sahiron was holding the two foreigners.
Dinampo also said that the two Germans were being kept with European birdwatchers Lorenzo Vinciguerra and Ewold Horn.
Last month, freed Abu Sayyaf captive Remigio Linggayan said he had spent some time with Okonek, Dielen, Horn and Vinciguerra while in captivity in Sulu.

Source: Inquirer, PhilSTAR, RAPPLER.COM
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