Saturday, October 24, 2009

Troops search for kidnapped architect in Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 24, 2009) – Security forces on Saturday mounted an operation to trace a Filipino architect kidnapped in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said Pablo Mercado, 45, was seized at noon Friday after gunmen, clad in police uniform, flagged down a passenger van on a highway in the village called Bubong in Saguiran town in Lanao del Sur in the volatile Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The van was carrying eight passengers, but gunmen singled out Mercado and dragged him to a waiting get-away car with markings “Councilor’ on its front bumper.

The armed men fled toward Marawi City along with Mercado, said Marine Major Ramon David Hontiveros, a regional military spokesman.

“Our units are tracking down the armed men and their captive. We still don’t know the motive of the abduction,” Hontiveros told the Mindanao Examiner.

It was not immediately known whether the gunmen were policemen or not, but kidnappers and criminal syndicates also use police and military uniforms which can easily be bought in gun shops and tailoring in the Philippines.

In 1998, Moro rebels clad in police uniform stormed a laboratory on an island off Tawi-Tawi and seized three Hong Kong fishery experts and ransomed them off to government negotiators.

Early this week, at least 11 robbers who posed as members of a police bomb squad walked past a security gate at the posh Greenbelt mall near Manila and stormed a Rolex shop. One of the gunmen was killed after a shootout with two policemen who were in the area, while the rest of the gang escaped.

Gunmen wearing police uniform were also behind the series of bank heist in Manila. (Mindanao Examiner)

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