Gunmen kidnap tourists in Philippines


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The Independent Online

Two tourists and their guide have been abducted by gunmen in the southern Philippines.

The Swiss and Dutch men are the latest kidnap victims in an impoverished region infested with al-Qa'ida-linked militants and criminal gangs that often seek ransom for their foreign hostages.

The tourists, Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinziguerre, were snatched with their guide by an armed group in the country's southernmost Tawi-Tawi island province and dragged to a waiting boat.

The kidnapping took place in the village of Parangan in the township of Panglima Sugala, in the remote islands that make up the province.

It was not immediately clear what the tourists were doing there since most of the southern Philippines is considered unsafe for foreign visitors and governments have put up advisories against travel in the region.

There were reports that the men were wildlife photographers. Tawi-Tawi is home to small islands known as Turtle Islands, which are close to Malaysian waters.

Muslim rebels have been fighting for minority self-rule in the predominantly Christian nation's south for decades. The most violent group, al-Qa'ida-linked Abu Sayyaf, has been notorious for terrorist attacks and kidnappings for ransom.

The militants are believed to be holding a former Australian soldier who was kidnapped before Christmas. In January, a video surfaced of him pleading for his life and urging the Philippines and Australia to raise a 2 million dollar ransom being demanded by his captors.