Manila (dpa) – A rescue operation for two German hostages held by extremists militants in the southern Philippines would be risky, the military chief said Wednesday.
General Gregorio Catapang said the military studied a plan to rescue plan the 74-year-old man and 55-year-old woman, but did not push through with it.
“There were plans to rescue them but the chances of success are slim,” he told reporters. “We can do the rescue but we don’t want to have a collateral damage.”
The hostages are believed to be held by Abu Sayyaf militants in the jungles of Indanan town on Jolo Island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, Catapang said.
“But they are moving around,” he added. “That’s why we have deployed additional troops so we can track them.”
Thousands of soldiers from the northern Philippines were dispatched to Sulu province, which includes Jolo Island, on the weekend.
On Monday, the hostages pleaded on local radio for Philippine and German authorities to exhaust all efforts to free them, expressing fears for their safety and health. “The situation here is very, very stressful,” the female hostage said. “We are not sure how long we can cope.”
The German man said his medical condition had worsened because they have sleeping on wet ground since their capture, adding, “I fear for myself.”
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ramin called the radio station to reiterate threats to behead the one of the hostages if ransom of more than $5 million is not paid by October 10.
The captors also demanded that Germany withdraw its support for the US airstrikes against extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Philippine authorities said the Abu Sayyaf, which has kidnapped foreigners for ransom in the past, appeared to be taking advantage of the international attention given to the Islamic State group.