COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police assured on Monday that there are efforts to prevent any spillover from the ongoing skirmishes between the Moro National Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu.




Senior Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, director of the ARMM police, said the hostilities between the two groups are only confined in a hinterland area, far from populated areas in surrounding municipalities.


Police offices in the 18 towns of Sulu have all been directed to exert all means of preventing any spread of the hostilities into villages in the province.


The conflict started Sunday, when MNLF members, led by Ustadz Habier Malik, tried to rescue Jordanian TV reporter Baker Atyani from his Abu Sayyaf captors, after negotiations being initiated by Malik’s group for his release reached an impasse.


Reports reaching the office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chairman of the regional peace and order council, stated that the Abu Sayyaf and Malik’s group have lost more than 20 men in the ensuing encounters.

Hataman said the provincial peace and order council of Sulu, chaired by Gov. Hadji Sakur Tan, is now attending to the needs of villagers displaced by the hostilities.


Atyani, who was kidnapped along with his news crew on June 13 last year, is now reportedly being held captive by a group led by a key henchman of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.


Atyani's crewmen, cameraman cameraman Ramel Vela and audio technician Rolando Letriro, were released by their Abu Sayyaf captors on Saturday night.