Abductors Will Make Missionaries Human Shields

Monday, February 4, 2002

By Noel T. Tarrazona
Philippine correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ZAMBOANGA CITY, PHILIPPINES (ANS) -- With the U.S. military assistance to the Philippine government to help rescue Christian missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham from their abductors the Abu Sayyaf Group, an Islamic rebel leader told ASSIST News Service that the abductors will use the Christian missionaries as their human shields when a U.S.-Philippine military joint rescue operation commences.

Moro (or Moslem) Islamic Liberation Front spokesperson Ustadz Shariff Julabbi said that the Abu Sayyaf will use the missionaries as a human shield as their last resort.

The MILF and Abu Sayyaf are Moslem rebel group fighting for a separate Islamic state in the Southern Philippines.

Their 40-year and still on-going armed and bloody struggle against the Philippine government have so far killed 50,000 human lives including innocent civilians.

The Abu Sayyaf Group was reportedly being pressured at the Sampinit complex by thousands of soldiers now deployed in Basilan to rescue the missionary couple.

Around 25 U.S. officials are now in this City to function as the advance team of the hundreds of U.S. soldiers to come for the joint military exercise with Filipino soldiers.

The Christian American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham who hail from Wichita, Kansas was abducted by 21 armed members of the Abu Sayyaf at Dos Palmas Beach Resort in Puerto Princesa City in May last year.

According to ASSIST source, the Abu Sayyaf is demanding 1 to 1.5 million U.S. dollars for the safe release of the missionary couple.

Filipino nurse Deborah Yap is also a captive of the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to have strong links with Al Queada.