SUSPECTED members of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped a provincial treasurer on late Monday afternoon in a remote village in Patikul town, Sulu province, police reports said on Tuesday.
Reports identified the victim as Jess Cabelin, 60, and treasurer of the Sulu Provincial government. Cabelin was abducted by a group of heavily armed men at about 6:45 p.m. within the vicinity of the treasurer’s quarters in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu.
Witnesses said that the suspects forced Cabelin inside a yellow Tamaraw FX, which was escorted by three motorcycles, and escaped towards an unknown direction.
The reports said Cabelin was abducted by men belonging to the group of Julli Ikit and Ninok Sappari, both are known ASG members. The reports also identified other members of the group as Namyel Ahajari; a certain “Murasil”; Bas Madon; Mammih Samlahon; Alkam HadjailJ; Njimar Mangkabung; “Kalid”; “Hairulla”; Saipuddin” and “Almujahid.”
Government security forces have launched a search operation for possible retrieval of the victim while elements of the PNP-Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) are monitoring the situation.
Patikul is a known bailiwick of the ASG, the smallest, but the most vicious armed group in Southern Philippines. ASG is involved in kidnapping and bombing activities.
Cabelin’s kidnapping occurred a few days after suspected ASG members snatched a Chinese fish trader in neighboring island of Sabah.