Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gunmen seize 2 traders in Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 21, 2011) – Gunmen seized two traders Sunday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said.

Officials said the duo - Ambon Blas, 60, and Perlita Bagay, 25, - were travelling on a motorcycle when abducted near a school in Latih village in Patikul town. “The victims were on their way home when armed men abducted them,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

The victims, he said, are engaged in selling used clothing in Jolo town.

Cabangbang said the local military has identified the leader of the gang as Basarun Aruk. It was not immediately known whether Aruk is a member of the Abu Sayyaf group which is holding several Filipinos and foreigners in Sulu.

Just this month, Abu Sayyaf militants seized a government midwife, Evangeline Taverisma, 55, in Tagbak village on Indanan town. She was on her way to report for work when seized by gunmen whose leader was identified as Nasir Timbang.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding two Filipino fishermen, an Indian national and a Malaysian citizen. Authorities blamed the group for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the southern Philippines.

The fishermen, Renato Panisales and Wennie Ferrer - employees of the Mega Fishing Corporation in Zamboanga City - were seized at sea in March. Their companion, Jonald Ocsimar, was freed in July after his family paid P300,000 ransom.

The militant group is holding Indian national Bijukolara Veetil, 36, who was kidnapped in June while visiting his Filipino wife in Patikul town. A Malaysian lizard trader, Mohammad Nasaruddin Bensaidin, 38, from Kuala Lumpur, was also kidnapped in Indanan town on April.

The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a US woman, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, and her son Kevin Eric Lunsmann, 14, including a Filipino nephew Romnick Jackaria, 19, after snatching them from a beach house on Tictabon Island in Zamboanga City and demanded P10 million ransoms. The hostages are believed to be in Basilan Island, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)

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