ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police and military authorities launched a manhunt for Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits who seized a municipal councilor of Jolo in a daring abduction in Indanan town on Wednesday.
Police said Ezzeddin Soud Tan was kidnapped in the village of Timbangan in the neighboring town of Indanan.
Tan was heading home on Wednesday evening when the gunmen on a red jeepney intercepted him.
The abductors sped off with Tan toward Talipao town and the police immediately launched a search for the town official.
It was unknown how the gunmen managed to sneak into the town without being detected by the police and military in many checkpoints installed in the province.
The entire Mindanao province, including the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is still under martial law, which was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte after the terrorist Maute Group laid siege on Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, last May.
Security officials and the mayor of Indanan have not released any statement on the latest abduction.
Military and police commanders had previously said the Abu Sayyaf is now on the run as a result of government offensives against the group notorious for kidnapping and terrorism.
Last July, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) acting Secretary Catalino Cuy stripped the 132 mayors in Sulu and other provinces in the ARMM of police powers for their alleged failure to help authorities or suppress “terrorist acts” perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf.
But Cuy did not sack police commanders for stopping Abu Sayyaf atrocities.
The police and military commanders, not local government officials, are responsible for running after the Abu Sayyaf and The DILG action was met with strong protests by government officials in the ARMM saying the decision was uncalled for in the wake of security threat in the region.
Meanwhile, a manhunt was launched for the killers of a police officer who was shot dead at a motorcycle store in Zamboanga City on Tuesday.
Another policeman and a security guard were wounded in the attack.
Killed was Senior Police Officer (SPO) 4 Abdurahman Estino, 46, a native of Sulu and assigned to Siocon town of Zamboanga del Norte.
Wounded were his cousin, SPO2 Abdulmunir Estino, 40, and security guard Leo Calago.
Police said Abdurahman was in the store to buy a motorcycle when the gunmen arrived and one of them shot the policemen with a .45-caliber pistol.
The two assailants fled on a motorcycle after the shooting along Mayor Vitaliano Agan Avenue.