15 held hostage in clan feud.
The kidnappings were the latest flareup in a long-running conflict over land between two clans that began 30 years ago in Basilan, said Col. Rodrigo Gregorio.
The feud has previously led to exchanges of gunfire and claimed about 20 lives from both sides, according to Gregorio, the regional spokesperson for the Armed Forces.
"Hopefully, there won't be any violence. The two sides are still talking," he said. Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army's 104th Infantry Brigade in Basilan, said the conflict involved the Dayalin and Duwalay families and "had something to do with 30 years of unsettled feuds."
He said the problem was compounded by the fact that the feuding families were associated with Muslim rebel factions.
The latest hostilities began last Tuesday when three daughters of Duwalay clan leader Hassan Addang were abducted in Lamitan, Basilan, by the rival Dayalin family, said Gregorio.
Hassan's armed followers retaliated by abducting 12 members of the Duwalay clan, including seven children, in Tipo-tipo town on Thursday.
Gregorio said the local government and military were negotiating with both sides and had successfully obtained the release of four children.
The ages of the kidnapped children ranged from five months to 15 years, the military said. But it was not clear which of them were released.
They are still trying to get the two rivals to release the rest of the captives while preventing any new outbreak of fighting, Gregorio said.
Hassan is a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the main Muslim rebel group until it signed a peace treaty with the government in 1996, but the feud does not involve his organization, the military said.
Muslim clans in the southern Philippines are well-known for waging prolonged feuds, typically over land, political power or influence. They often use armed followers to attack each other.
Such feuds in Mindanao, which the country's Muslim minority regard as their homeland, claimed more than 5,500 lives and displaced thousands between the 1930s to 2005, according to a study by the Asia Foundation.
During such feuds, the government, including the military, typically tries to negotiate for peace between rival sides rather than move to apprehend the contending parties.
According to a report on the abductions by Lt. Col. Paolo Perez, commander of the 18th Infantry Battalion, the three Duwalay girls, who are from AlBarka town, were abducted last July 9 on Triangle Avenue in Lamitan.
"The girls were forced to board a white Hi-Lux vehicle which sped towards Bohe Tambac in Tipo-tipo town," Perez said.
Galvez said Hassan immediately suspected that the abduction of his daughters was the handiwork of Andihal Dayalin, the leader of the rival clan.
Two days later, armed men suspected to be Hassan's followers snatched 12 people, mostly minors, but three of them were later freed on humanitarian grounds, he said.
Negotiations for the release of the remaining 11 captives are now being conducted by local leaders, Galvez said.
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|Publication:||Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)|
|Date:||Jul 13, 2013|
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