MANILA: At least four gunmen abducted an elderly British man and his Filipino wife from their southern Philippine beach resort within sight of several people, police and military officials said.
Police Cpl Jairus delos Reyes said yesterday the suspects, who were armed with pistols, took Allan Hyrons and his wife, Wilma, from a hut in their resort at nightfall on Friday and dragged them to a motorboat in Tukuran town in Zamboanga del Sur province.
Several young men in a nearby bar witnessed the abduction.
Police are searching for the unidentified gunmen and the couple, who own two schools in addition to the resort in the coastal town, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the latest abduction in the south, where kidnappings for ransom by Muslim militants and other armed groups have long been a security concern and have discouraged tourism, trade and investment, especially in remote and poorly guarded rural areas.
Military offensives against ransom-seeking militant groups such as the Abu Sayyaf have reduced abductions in recent years, but they continue to occur.
Philippine authorities said they are also trying to verify the reported abductions of three Indonesian fishermen last week off Sabah near the sea border with the southern Philippines, where Abu Sayyaf gunmen have staged kidnappings in the past, sparking a regional security alarm.
A trilateral patrol agreement between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia in the Sulu Sea, surrounding island provinces where Abu Sayyaf Group mainly operate, has reduced kidnappings in recent years.
The Zamboanga Peninsula in mainland Mindanao, where the latest abduction happened, has not seen incidents of kidnapping in recent years.
“It’s been a while since an incident of kidnapping happened in our area. We are not happy with the situation, ” said Reyes. — AP
Did you find this article insightful?