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Muslim Rebels Suspected in Kidnap

November 21, 1999

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) _ Suspected Muslim extremists abducted an engineer near a Philippine military camp, the latest kidnapping to hit the southern Mindanao region, officials said Sunday.

Officials said Robustiano Hablo Jr., a civil engineer, was seized by at least six masked rebels Saturday in Sulu province’s Patikul town.

The rebels, armed with rifles, blocked a jeep carrying Hablo and his father near the headquarters of a Marine brigade and dragged the engineer into another jeep. His father was left unharmed, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said.

No group has claimed responsibility or demanded ransom for Hablo’s release, but Abu Sayyaf rebels active in Sulu, about 600 miles south of Manila, have staged a number of such kidnappings this year. In one, they beheaded the victim after his relatives refused to pay a ransom.

The Mindanao region is one of the country’s poorest sections and a hotbed of Muslim separatist insurrection. The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller of two prominent Muslim rebel groups battling the Manila government for a separate Islamic nation in the region.

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