ZAMBOANGA CITY – Gunmen barged on Thursday morning into a government school in Sulu province in southern Philippines and seized its head teacher, security officials said.
Officials said at least five gunmen were involved in the abduction of Marjorie Abdul at Liang Elementary School in Patikul town, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group blamed for the spate of ransom kidnappings in the restive region.
Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said security forces were deployed in the town to track down and rescue Abdul.
“The Western Mindanao Command is exhausting all efforts and means to track down the captors and rescue the hostage who was forcibly taken by five armed men in the school premises. Lateral coordination with the police and the provincial government has been established to intensify all pursuit operations, identify the perpetrators, and trace their hideouts,” she said.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the latest abduction, but Petinglay, who condemned the attack, said all intelligence resources were being utilized to obtain further information about the gunmen.
“We strongly condemn any kidnapping ploys employed by lawless groups in the province. Rest assured that we will sustain our operations in coordination with law enforcement agencies,” she said.
Just this week, kidnappers freed a Muslim teacher, Doris Hamsirani, who was recovered in Liang village, also in Patikul town. The 45-year old teacher was snatched on March 7 in Timbangan village in Indanan town, but details surrounding her abduction were unclear.
It was unknown whether her family paid ransom or not, or whether the Abu Sayyaf or other groups were behind her abduction. Police provided no other details.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding over a dozen hostages, mostly foreign sailors, in the troubled region. AL JACINTO