Abu Sayyaf suspected in kidnapping of three in Philippines

TIMPOOK , Philippines, Aug. 8 (UPI) — Three people were kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf insurgents, a Philippines’ military spokesman said.

Although no group immediately claimed responsibility, the abductions would bring the number of people held by Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist separatist organization known for violence in the Philippines, to 27. Seventeen are foreigners; two Canadian hostages were beheaded earlier this year.

Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command, identified the victims as Levi Gonzales, a telecom technician, 30; his pregnant wife, Daniele, 30, and Shariff Julhasan Abirin. They were traveling in a multi-cab, a light truck used for public transportation, when they were abducted at gunpoint in the municipality of Timpook, in the Philippines’ Muslim autonomous region, Saturday. The multi-cab was later found by authorities.

Tan added that rescue efforts were underway, and that the military is working to determine if any ransom demands were made by Abu Sayyaf.

Five members of a Malaysian tugboat crew were reported missing on July 26, and seven Indonesian sailors were reported kidnapped in June; Abu Sayyaf was blamed for each incident.

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