Gunmen abduct businessman in southern Philippines
AP - 1 hour 36 minutes ago
MANILA, Philippines - Suspected Muslim militants abducted a businessman on southern Jolo island despite a government crackdown intended to curb a rash of kidnappings in the region, police said Sunday.
Peter Go was taken at gunpoint by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants late Saturday from his store near Jolo's pier then taken away aboard a van, Sulu provincial police chief Julasirim Kasim said.
He has lived on predominantly Muslim Jolo, about 590 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila, for less than a year, they said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction and a military and police search was under way.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has expressed anger over a rise in kidnappings by Muslim militants on Jolo and nearby islands and ordered troops and police to step up a monthslong crackdown.
There have been concerns that the kidnappings would scare away investors and tourists while helping to resuscitate the Abu Sayyaf, which Arroyo's administration has dismissed as a spent force after U.S.-backed military offensives killed its elusive chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani, and other top commanders.
Also Saturday, Muslim militants stormed a house on nearby Basilan island, killing two members of a pro-government militia and a woman then kidnapping three civilians to cover their escape.
The military said it suspected the kidnappers were members of the Abu Sayyaf or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a large Muslim rebel group, which had been negotiating with the government for self-rule in the south. The talks collapsed after major fighting erupted in August.
The Abu Sayyaf, which the military says has more than 300 gunmen, has been blamed for a string of high-profile kidnappings for ransom, including of Americans and Europeans. It's on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations with links to al-Qaida.
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