Asia Gunmen kidnap mayor of southern Philippine town

Gunmen kidnap mayor of southern Philippine town

Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga
Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga

(AA) – The Philippine government said Tuesday that authorities are exerting all efforts to rescue the mayor of a southern town kidnapped by gunmen who fled on motorboat.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas cited reports as saying five gunmen entered the home of Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay, Monday night.

“She was with her friends when the suspects armed with short firearms barged in and forcibly took the mayor. The group sped off toward the sea onboard two motorized bancas,” Roxas said, according to the Philippine Star.

“Our police are exerting all efforts to determine the whereabouts of the mayor and rescue her safely in coordination with other law enforcement authorities and the military.”

He added that Zamboanga Sibugay’s provincial government will convene a crisis management committee Tuesday.

Police Chief Supt. Edgar Orduno Basbas had earlier released a statement saying that Adana was taken from her residence in Taytay Manubo village at around 9.15 p.m. (1415GMT).

According to national police intelligence reports, the abductors headed toward Kalintana village in ​Naga.​

The abduction of Mayor Adana comes a month after two teachers were kidnapped in Talusan town of the same province.

The police had blamed the March 6 abduction, during which the teachers were dragged to a waiting motorboat that sped off in an unknown direction, on members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Kidnap-for-ransom gangs frequently operate in the Zamboanga peninsula region – Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City.

Police sources say the gangs turn their captives over to the Abu Sayyaf and negotiate for a ransom that, if paid, is shared with the group.

The kidnappers use isolated sea-lanes and coastal areas to grab their victims, who are then held captive in isolated Muslim villages in the peninsula.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

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