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Priest killers may be hiding in Tawi-Tawi islet

ICC Note:

Intelligence reports indicate that the 10 Muslim extremists who killed a Catholic priest last year may have fled, with hostages, into one of the villages on the islets of Tawi-Tawi.

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1/21/2008 Philippines (Inquirer) Government security forces have cordoned off a number of islets in Tawi-Tawi following an intelligence report the 10 suspected Muslim extremists and two of their hostages fled into one of the villages there after killing Catholic priest Jesus Reynaldo Roda last week.

The task force, made up of elements from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Marines and the Philippine Air Force, “are out there operating with caution not to inflict casualties on innocent civilians, particularly the two hostages,” said Goltiao.

He said Omar Taup, a teacher of Notre Dame of Tabawan high school in Tawi-Tawi, and fish vendor Hussin Sahirul had been forcibly taken to serve as their “human shields” in case the gunmen are pursued by government troopers.

Last Tuesday, Roda was in a church in Tabawan for his regular evening prayer when the gunmen arrived at 8:30 p.m.

At gunpoint, he was brought out of the chapel into the basketball court but he resisted, telling his captors he would rather die than be kidnapped. He was then shot in the head and body.

The priest had been helping the poor Muslim and Christian settlers in Tawi-Tawi through education and livelihood. He was school director of Tabawan for 10 years and had been running various parishes in Central Mindanao before his missionary assignment in Tawi-Tawi.

A hero’s welcome greeted the remains of Roda when he was bought to the OMI Formation House here on Saturday.

Since then, a steady stream of visitors, both Muslims and Christians flooded the OMI formation house compound, an indication the slain priest was well-loved, said Fr. Mon Bernabe, OMI, Oblate superior in the Philippines.

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