Authorities arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf member involved in the 2001 Lamitan Siege during an operation in Basilan on Thursday, a military spokesman said.

The suspect, identified only by the alias “Abu Benjamin,” was arrested in Brgy. Oval, Lamitan City, Thursday morning, Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

Intelligence personnel, along with members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, PNP Special Action Force, and Lamitan City Police carried out the arrest on warrants kidnapping and serious illegal detention, Caber said.

The case stemmed from Abu Sayyaf members’ invasion of Lamitan City, where they took hostage several personnel of the Jose Maria Torres Memorial Hospital and raided the St. Peter’s Church.

The siege followed the May 27, 2001 kidnapping at the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan, where Abu Sayyaf members abducted several tourists – including Americans Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero – and brought them to Basilan.

Sobero was beheaded the same year while Martin Burnham and Filipina nurse Ediborah Yap were killed when Abu Sayyaf members clashed with government troops who were conducting a rescue operation in June 2002. (John Roson)

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