Philippines kidnapping: Military and police scour waters after gunmen abduct four from tourist resort

Naval blockade backed by two helicopter gunships is set up around the island to stop the kidnappers from reaching militant stronghold

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Unidentified gunmen have abducted a Norwegian resort manager, two Canadians and a Filipino woman from a southern Philippine island, the military and police said.

The gunmen appeared to have specifically targeted the victims when they entered the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort before midnight on the northern tip of Samal Island off Davao City, about 975 kilometers (610 miles) south-east of Manila, regional military spokesman Captain Alberto Caber said.

Regional police spokesman Superintendent Antonio Rivera said the gunmen also tried to seize a foreign couple from one of the yachts docked at the resort, but they resisted and escaped by jumping off the boat. He said the couple suffered minor injuries.

Rivera said 11 gunmen in two motorized outriggers were involved in the abduction.

He said the police and military using planes and helicopters were scouring the waters and the shores around the island and other areas in the Davao Gulf.

Caber said earlier that two Japanese tried to intervene in the abduction but it was unclear whether they were actually the couple on the yacht.

Caber said authorities have no immediate suspects. In 2001, Abu Sayyaf militants tried to seize hostages from the Pearl Farm Beach Resort south of Ocean View during a ransom-kidnapping spree in the early 2000s in the southern Philippines.

Caber said a naval blockade backed by two helicopter gunships was set up around the island to stop the kidnappers from reaching Basilan Island farther to the southwest where Abu Sayyaf militants have strongholds where they keep hostages while negotiating ransoms. The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 gunmen, was recently declared a terrorist group by a Philippine court and is on Washington's lists of terror organizations.

Police identified the Norwegian as Kjartan Sekkingstad, the resort's marina manager, and Canadians as John Ridsel and Robert Hall. Rivera said the Filipino woman is a partner of one of the Canadians.

Davao del Norte provincial police chief Senior Supterintendent Samuel Gadingan told government radio station DXRP in Davao City that three men armed with rifles entered the resort before midnight.

The Abu Sayyaf seized dozens of Filipino hostages on Basilan and 21 people, mostly European tourists, from the Malaysian resort of Sipadan in 2000, and abducted three Americans and 17 Filipinos in 2001 from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province southwest of Manila.

The militants are still holding other hostages, including two Malaysians, a Dutch bird watcher kidnapped nearly three years ago, and a town mayor.

Comments