PATIKUL, Philippines, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen abducted a public elementary school teacher while she was on her way to work Tuesday in the village of Kanague in Patikul town, in the southern island province of Sulu, police said.
Edrina Manalas Bonsil, 30, was traveling in a Jeep when five gunmen flagged down the vehicle and took her with force around 8 a.m., said Maj. Filemon Tan, Jr., a Western Mindanao Command spokesman. They fled on foot toward the village of Kabbon Takas, also in Patikul.
No one claimed responsibility for the abduction, but police said Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist separatist organization known for violence in the Philippines, may be behind it.
The military official said troops of the Army’s 32nd and 10th infantry battalions have launched pursuit operations in a bid to rescue the teacher. A total of 16 people, including Bonsil, are thought to now be in the hands of the jihadist bandits in the Muslim region in Sulu.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered troops last week to intensify anti-terrorism efforts, including operations against Abu Sayyaf.
Last month, Abu Sayyaf militants abducted at gunpoint three people, including a pregnant woman, from a multi-cab, a light truck used for public transportation, in Timpook.