ZAMBOANGA (Philippines): Ten gunmen kidnapped a Malaysian businessman on a troubled southern Philippine island that is a known stronghold of Islamic militants, authorities said yesterday.
Mohammad Nasaruddin Bensaidin, 38, was seized from a small town on Jolo island on Saturday, regional police chief director Felicisimo Khusaid.
“The suspects were unidentified and fully armed,” Khu said, adding that an investigation was being conducted by police on Jolo.
Regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang described Mohammad Nasaruddin as a businessman from Kuala Lumpur who had been living on the island for a month.
Cabangbang said investigators were trying to determine what business Mohammad Nasaruddin was engaged in, although initial investigations showed he claimed to be dealing in lizard trading.
“We do not have any other information about him,” he said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, although Jolo is a known stronghold of many small armed gangs, including the Abu Sayyaf.
Founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, the Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the country's worst terrorist attacks, including a 2004 ferry bombing that left more than 100 people dead.
The group is also blamed for repeated abductions of foreigners, local businessmen and missionaries typically in an effort to raise money through ransom demands.
The Abu Sayyaf is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States and hundreds of American soldiers have been training Filipino troops to crush the group since 2001. - AFP