ZAMBOANGA CITY –Gunmen seized a Filipino couple shortly after they arrived home in Patikul, Sulu, at dawn Sunday.
Police said Bonifacio Salinas, 54, and his wife, Claire, just returned from Zamboanga City and were about to enter their house in Patikul when five gunmen grabbed them and dragged them to a jeep.
“We are investigating the motive of the abduction and who were behind it,” Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, the provincial police chief, told The Manila Times.
Orbita said the couple work at the Jolo Mainland Water District.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but previous cases in Sulu have been blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, a notorious rebel group specializing in ransom kidnappings and terrorism.
In December, police in Sulu arrested an Abu Sayyaf member Haik Asgali in connection with the February 2012 kidnapping in Tawi-Tawi of wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland.
Asgali, who was captured in Jolo, is a nephew of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.
The two foreigners and their Filipino guide Ivan Sarenas, 35, were taken at gunpoint by five men in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town while they were shooting wild birds.
The group handed the two over to the Abu Sayyaf. Sarenas managed to escape, but the fate of the two foreigners is unknown.
The Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped the provincial treasurer of Sulu, Jess Cabilin, in Patikul in November. Cabilin was released unharmed.
Authorities identified Cabilin’s kidnappers as Ninok Sappari and Julli Ikit who were also implicated in the March 2012 kidnapping of an Indian, Viju Kolara Veetil, and other Filipinos in Sulu.