MILF FREE 6 MILITIA, ARMY CPL ESCAPES

Zamboanga City, March 30, 2003 -- The MILF yesterday freed six militiamen 
who had been held prisoner in Lanao del Norte since March 6.

A seventh prisoner, Army Cpl. Johnny Umpoy, escaped and was being pursued 
by the rebels, according to MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu.

The prisoners, who were turned over to Jane Jacques Butallaz, a 
representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), were 
Juanito Wagas, Antonio Papillero, Angelito Reyes, Marcelino Canete, Rizaldy 
Unana and Carlito Cabilao.

Kabalu said the captives were treated properly by rebels during their three 
weeks of captivity following a firefight between government and rebel forces.

"They were given ample food and treated properly. They were not tortured or 
physically abused. They were allowed to pray their religion and now they 
believe in our cause," he said.

Kabalu also promised that Umpoy would be brought back alive.

He did not say how and when Umpoy escaped.

Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero said the security men 
were kidnapped by the MILF.

"They are not prisoners of war, but victims of kidnapping by MILF 
terrorists. We still have no word on our soldier," he said.

Suspected MILF rebels killed a family of four in Sultan Kudarat yesterday. 
The victims have not been identified.

Reports said that heavily armed men stormed barangay Kintabok, Lambayong, 
Sultan Kudarat, at around 2 a.m. and strafed the house of the victims.

The victims died on the spot.

Reports said the bandits also fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the 
victims' house before fleeing.

In Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, two other suspected MILF rebels blasted 
yesterday a steel tower of the National Power Corp.

An improvised explosive device was planted at the foot of the tower in 
Barangay Tingin-Tingin, which went off at 5 a.m. (Al Jacinto, PHNO Mindanao 
Bureau)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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