Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Troops search for kidnapped Chinese trader in Southern Philippines

Villagers ride motorized boats in Cotabato City in Maguindanao province. Gunmen seized a Chinese-Filipino trader, Nestor Tay, in Cotabato City on Monday, August 16, 2010. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 17, 2010) – Philippine troops have mounted an operation Tuesday to rescue a kidnapped Chinese-Filipino in the volatile region of Mindanao, officials said.

Officials said gunmen abducted Nestor Tay, owner of the New Asian Marketing in Cotabato City in Maguindanao province late Monday afternoon. Tay was inside his store when armed men barged and seized Tay.

Tay was dragged to a waiting van outside his store and sped off towards, leaving behind a security guard who was disarmed by the gunmen.

“There is an ongoing operation, but we cannot disclose details of this operation, but troops and police forces are searching for the victim,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Hao, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction and authorities would not say whether Moro rebels were behind this. But previous kidnappings had been blamed to the rebels, who use ransom to purchase weapons to fight the government or finance terror attacks.

Kidnappings-for-ransom is not uncommon in Cotabato and dozens of wealthy traders had been kidnapped in the past and freed after their family paid ransoms to their captors.

Besides from Tay, gunmen are also holding a Japanese citizen, Toshio Ito, 63, who was seized July 16 from his home in Pangutaran Island in the Sulu archipelago. (With a report from Mark Navales)

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