Saturday, April 02, 2011

Gunmen seize Cotabato City shop owner

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 2, 2011) – Gunmen barged into a small shop and abducted its owner in a daring raid in Cotabato city in the southern Philippines, security officials said on Saturday.

Officials said at least four gunmen dragged Jinky Lim Yap, 30, from inside her office and forcibly took her away in a waiting van outside late Friday.

“The victim was forcibly dragged by the kidnappers into a van which was later found abandoned and recovered by pursuing law enforcers near a river bank also in Cotabato City,” said Major Marlowe Patria, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

He said the kidnappers escaped with their victim on board three motorized boats. “Authorities are still on pursuit operations,” Patria said.

No group claimed responsibility for the abduction, the second in Cotabato City since early this year where gunmen also kidnapped a Filipino-Chinese hardware store owner Eulogio Lim Yu, 56, as he stepped out of a hotel.

Yu’s kidnappers have reportedly demanded P10 million for his safe release. Late last year, kidnappers also seized an elderly Filipino-Chinese gas depot owner Rodolfo Chio near Cotabato City.

The 70-year victim was later freed after his family allegedly paid P5 million to the kidnappers, who were believed to be rebels.

Kidnappings-for-ransom has become a lucrative business for rebels and criminal syndicates in Mindanao, where many areas are underdeveloped and job opportunities are scarce.

Sometimes gangs kidnapped civilians and hand them over to rebels in exchange for a cut in the ransom. Poverty has been blamed for many kidnapping incidents in the southern Philippines. (With a report from Mark Navales)

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