• Basilan vice mayor abducted at mall in Zamboanga City

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police said a vice mayor of a small town in the Muslim province of Basilan has been abducted at a shopping mall in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

    Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman, said Arcina Kahing Nanoh, of Hadji Muhtamad town, was taken from the Mindpro Mall while shopping with her husband Alnajil on Tuesday. The husband told police that he just left his 20-year old wife for a while and she disappeared.

    Huesca said Nanoh’s husband reported the abduction to the police after he received a call from her wife’s cell phone saying she has been abducted by unidentified men. It was unknown whether the abductors have demanded ransom for the safe release of the politician.

    “One Alnajil Nanoh reported that his wife identified as Arsina Nanoh, vice mayor of Hadji Muhtamad municipality in Basilan province, was allegedly abducted by unidentified suspects at Mindpro Mall,” Huesca said.

    Nanoh was allegedly forced by unidentified men out of the shopping mall unnoticed by the guards and into a waiting vehicle where other men were waiting, other reports said.

    No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction. Nanoh is a member of the political opposition party United Nationalists Alliance. There was no immediate statement either from her political party or family about the abduction.

    Just last month, kidnappers disguised as policemen also seized a young mother, Sabrina Ikbala Voon, from her house in the village of Mercedes and dragged her to a waiting get-away van.

    The kidnappers have reportedly demanded P5 million from her family in exchange for the woman’s safe release. The 22-year old Voon, a native of Sulu province, was kidnapped on February 19 and police said it filed criminal charges against one of her captors Abdul Hassan Yusop.

    Local police chief Angelito Casimiro said the 28-year old kidnapper has been identified through his photo on a falsified driver’s license he used to hire the van from a local car rental company. Casimiro said Yusop, who used the name Rey Santos in his identification card, is a native of Tuburan town in Basilan province, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

    It was not immediately known whether Yusop is a member of the Abu Sayyaf group operating in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

    No individual or group claimed responsibility for both kidnappings, but authorities had previously blamed these to the Abu Sayyaf, a small but the most notorious rebel group tagged by the authorities as behind the spate of ransom kidnappings and terrorism in the southern Philippines. AL JACINTO

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