Philippine Abu Sayyaf militants abduct 2 workers
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants have abducted two contractors for a telecommunications company in the southern Philippines, the latest captives by a ransom-seeking group that still holds two European tourists and other hostages, officials said Wednesday.
Nasri Abubakar and Dennis Aluba were traveling with a guide on motorcycles after inspecting a cellphone transmission facility when they were stopped by about 10 Abu Sayyaf gunmen Tuesday in mountainous Patikul town in Sulu province, marine Col. Jose Cenabre said.
The guide managed to escape while the gunmen led the victims to a jungle.
The abducted men were technicians for a sub-contracting firm that was helping set up a phone transmission network for the country’s leading telecommunications company Globe Telecom. Globe expressed hopes that the victims would be safely freed.
Marines looking for the gunmen and their victims stumbled on a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant and took him into custody for questioning, Cenabre said by telephone from Sulu, a poor, predominantly Muslim province about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila.
Government troops normally provide security for workers involved in infrastructure projects, but the abducted men did not ask for military escorts, he said.
An initial investigation showed that the men were abducted by a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen that has also been blamed for the kidnapping in June of two Algerian-born Filipino sisters who had traveled to Patikul to do a film about Muslim coffee farmers. The women remain in captivity.
Although weakened by years of military setbacks, the Abu Sayyaf group remains a security threat and holds several hostages, including two European birdwatchers and a Jordanian journalist.
Such abductions are far fewer today than the numerous kidnappings that terrorized Sulu and outlying provinces in the early 2000s.