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PIA Press Release

Fleet-Marine forces close in on kidnappers' lair in Basilan

Isabela City de Basilan (11 February) -- The combined fleet-marine forces of 1st Marine Brigade and Naval Task Group Basilan under Joint Task Force Trillium headed by Commodore Alexander P. Pama are closing in on the kidnappers of the 3 teachers from Zamboanga City, as well as other kidnap victim Chester Gruta of Lamitan.

The continuous pressure on the armed elements of the kidnap groups resulted to the successful escape Sunday (Feb 8) of the 45-year old Eleazar Gumera, a midwife from Lamitan City, who was duped by his abductors into answering to a call for an alleged birth delivery last January 28, 2009.

Gumera, who appeared very weak when he reached the safety of Lamitan City under the care of Mayor Roderick Furigay at around 9 am, was immediately whisked to the Headquarters of Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 at Campo Uno, Lamitan for medical check-up and debriefing.

BGen Rustico Guerrero, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Brigade, and the Chief of Police of Lamitan C/Insp Rolando C. Democrito interviewed him.

Gumera was forced to flee from his captors when he overheard that he would be killed. He made good his escape on February 7 after sensing that his guards were sleeping, making his way into the jungle by continuous walking and running until he reached the shoreline of Mohammad Adjul municipality. He swam for two hours until he hailed a passing banca and requested to be brought to Barangay Bato.

At day break last Monday, the special operation platoons of the 1st Marine Brigade, led by Major Armel Tolato, Commanding Officer of MBLT7, engaged the kidnappers believed to be led by Cmdr Pula in the hinterlands of Akbar and Mohammad Adjul municipalities.

After a 25-minute firefight, two kidnappers were killed on the spot (body count) and the Marines recovered two M1 Garand rifles, 4 rifle grenades and several magazines, with no casualty on the government side. There was no trace however of the kidnap victims as the armed group retreated from the pursuing troops.

BGen Guerrero declared that there would be no let-up in their military operations to pressure the armed group until all kidnap victims are safely rescued. He added that this move is in support of the Basilan Provincial Crisis Management Committee's effort to persuade the kidnappers to release all victims unconditionally. (1st Marine Bde/PIA 9 BST) [top]

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