Four civilians abducted in Jolo

Posted on March 05, 2014

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- At least six armed men wearing white robes abducted four civilians, two of them minors in downtown Jolo in the province of Sulu on Monday morning, a ranking military official said.

Brig. Gen. Martin N. Pinto, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade based in Jolo identified the victims as Mohammad Zaher J. Nain, 11 years old, his eight-year-old cousin Princess Raiza Karanain, their housemaid Almalyn Abuduhail, and family driver Saddam Amlih, all residents of Alat, a village in Jolo.

"The incident occurred past seven in the morning in front of Zamboanga Store along Gen. Arola Street, Barangay Walled City," he told reporters.

"The victims were on board a grey [Toyota] Innova on their way to Notre Dame Girls School when they were intercepted and forcibly taken by the kidnappers [who were riding a] red Tamaraw-type jeep," he said.

Mr. Pinto said the kidnappers fled towards the direction of Kasanyangan Village, Barangay Asturias.

Abduction incidents have been rampant in the island-province of Sulu where the Abu Sayyaf Group is based.

Last month, suspected Abu Sayyaf members also abducted a couple identified as Bonifacio Salinas, 54, and his wife, Claire, who are employees of the Jolo water district.

Edmund Gumbahali, president of the nongovernmental organization Hawani Panglima, Inc. in Jolo described the Sulu security situation as seasonal.

"At certain time, kidnapping and extortion go serious, but these would subside later," he said.

Mr. Gumbahali said the incidents could either be purely criminal in nature, or politically motivated. "The government must have the political will to cross-cut cultural sensitivity on law enforcement," he told BusinessWorld.

As a solution to this problem, Mr. Gumbahali said it is necessary for law enforcement agencies to have an organized special operation with a tight intelligence network that could provide profiles of the outlaws.

Meanwhile, the police office of Midsayap, North Cotabato reported that eight civilians were wounded in a grenade blast here on Monday night.

Henry Narciso, deputy police chief of Midsayap, said the blast occurred at around 8:45 p.m. at the fish section of the town’s public market.

Witnesses said two men riding in tandem were seen throwing a grenade. Lester O. Camba, regional police chief, told BusinessWorld the motive could be personal grudge among leaders in the public market as well as one tenant.

Based on an initial investigation and accounts from witnesses, a suspect Mr. Camba decline to identify, was heard sometime in January as saying he would throw a grenade at the public market should his mother be affected by management conflicts.

Victims who sustained injuries were Kryza Jane Torrejas, 13; Virginia Cablas, 56; Quintin Trastisa, 32; Lezel Ann Pocapotan, 14; Paula Angelie Masicampo, 20; Rodrigo Cataytay, Jr., 31; and Bernie Cuerpo, 22. The eighth victim Charles Monsanto Guhitia, 22, sustained serious injuries, the official said.

Seven of the eight victims received immediate treatment on Monday night, and have returned to their homes. Mr. Guhitia, however, was taken to Davao City for further treatment. -- Albert F. Arcilla and Louie O. Pacardo