Abus abduct 3 Pinoys; another Indonesian seized in Sulu seas

Hours after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, the bandit group abducted three persons, one of them a telecom technician and his pregnant wife, in the outskirts of Sulu province on Saturday, the military said.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), identified the victims as Levi Gonzales, 30, a technician of a telecom company, and his wife Daniella Taruc, 26; and Shariff Julhasan Abirin.

Tan said that three were aboard a black multicab when intercepted around 10:20 a.m. along Barangay Timpook, Patikul.

"The victims were heading toward a cellular site in Barangay Bagsak, Talipao when they were abducted by armed men believed to be ASG/KFRG (kidnap for ransom group)," said Tan.

"The three were forcibly taken going to the direction of Sitio Kaban-Kaban. The vehicle was abandoned along the road," he added.

Last Friday night, Duterte told military to finish off the Abu Sayyaf group stressing that there will be no peace if they (ASG) continue to exist.

Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen have kidnapped another Indonesian sailor in the Sulu Sea where numerous seafarers have been abducted by Islamist extremists in recent months, officials also yesterday said.

The kidnapping took place Wednesday off the northeast of Sabah state on the Malaysian side of Borneo island, Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia said.

"(The vessel) was intercepted by a boat carrying four armed men," ambassador Herman Prayitno told Agence France Presse.

The kidnappers took the Indonesian captain after failing to get the 10,000 ringgit ($2,500) they demanded, Prayitno added. They released the two other crew members, an Indonesian and a Malaysian.

Indonesia's foreign ministry said it was still trying to find out which group was responsible.

Malaysia's marine police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah told AFP authorities were questioning the two crew members from the boat about the case.

The kidnapping is the latest in a string of incidents in the Sulu Sea, where groups of armed men have ambushed fishing vessels and seized Malaysian and Indonesian citizens for ransom.

Ten other Indonesians kidnapped in recent months by the Abu Sayyaf are still being held.

Jakarta has banned Indonesian-flagged vessels from sailing to the Philippines and pushed for joint maritime patrols in the waterway.

A handful of Malaysian sailors have also been kidnapped this year.

The latest kidnapping also came amid the ongoing focused and intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists who are holding more than a dozen hostages, including nine foreigners, prior to the abduction on Saturday.

Among the foreign captives is Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was among the four victims snatched from the posh Oceanview Resort on Samal Island last September.

Two of the Samal victims -Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, were beheaded one after the other after failing to pay P600-million ransom.

The third victim Filipino Marites Flor was freed last June as a "goodwill" to the Duterte administration.

Source: Daily Tribune