Missing German tourists in Palawan in ASG custody

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THE two German tourists who went missing between the high seas of Palawan and Sabah sometime in April are in the custody of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a Manila-based intelligence officer disclosed on Monday.

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The Germans, identified as Stefan Victor Okonek, 71, and Herike Diesen, 55, were taken by heavily armed ASG bandits while on their way to Sabah, Malaysia from Palawan.

The two Germans had just come from an island hoping trip in Mindanao when they were seized on April 26 in the waters of Bataraza town in Palawan.

A photograph shared by the intelligence officer showed the two Germans sitting on the ground holding a Germany flag and surrounded by men armed with heavy automatic weapons.

“They [ASG] have been holding them [Germans] since they were taken last April from Palawan,” the intelligence officer who asked not to be named said.

When asked if there were ongoing negotiations for the release of the two Germans, the intelligence answered in the negative.

“I’m not privy if there were negotiations taking place . . . but what I know is that the Germans don’t trust us,” the intelligence officer said.

The officer said the two were taken by the ASG after they got wind of information from their (ASG) relatives in Palawan who tipped them of about foreigners seen on board a yatch near one of the islands.

“May mga kamag-anak ‘yung ASG dun sa lugar na yun at sila ang nagbigay ng impormasyon sa dalawang ito,” the intelligence source said.

Military spokesman Lt. Colonel Ramon Zagala said the two Germans were taken by ASG bandits under Murphy Ambang Ladia alias Haji Gulam, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front.

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