THE Abu Sayyaf have lowered their ransom demand for their two Canadian, Norwegian and Filipina captives from P1 billion to P300 million and postponed the execution of their victims from April 8 to April 25.
The bandits announced the changes in a video posted on YouTube which featured messages from two of the four hostages.
The captives were identified as Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad and Hall’s Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor.
The victims were seized by armed men last Sept. 21 from the Oceanview Samal Resort in Barangay Camudmud in Samal island.
The videos were posted as another Abu Sayyaf bandit was killed while four troopers were wounded in the military operation against the Al Qaida-linked terrorist group, presently holed-out in the jungles of Tipo-Tipo, Basilan Thursday.
Major Felimon Tan, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said the renewed fighting with the Abu Sayyaf erupted at 11 p.m. in Tipo-Tipo town’s Barangay Amoloy.
He said the cadaver of the Abu Sayyaf bandit was recovered at the scene of fighting during military clearing operations at the battle site.
Ground troopers also seized 130 pieces of cartridges of 5.56 mm ammunition, 90 recoilless rifle shells, one cylinder tube, a solar charger, chemical substances, two cellphones and a back pack with a rifle grenade.
The continued fighting between security forces and Abu Sayyaf brought the death toll to 32 militants and 18 soldiers since the bloody clash erupted last Saturday between some 200 ASG under its leader Isnilon Hapilon and Furuji Indama.
The skirmishes has also caused injury to 56 people, most of them army troopers who tripped land mines.
At least six battalions of combined troops were deployed to the jungles of Tipo-Tipo to neutralize the fleeing Abu Sayyaf.
Sporadic clashes has been taking place in different parts of Tipo-Tipo as ground troops applied pressure against the terrorist group which is also believed to be in custody of 10 Indonesian seamen and four Malaysian hostages.
The 10 Indonesians were on board a tugboat towing a barge with 7,000 tons of coal en route to Batangas when they were interdicted by the Abu Sayyaf aboard a three-engine motor boat off the coast of Tawi-Tawi last month.
Few days later, the ASG struck anew in Semporna, Sabah taking with them four Malaysian nationals, who were taken to Sulu.