• Hardware store owner seized in southern Philippines

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen seized a hardware store owner in Patikul town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, police said on Wednesday.

    Police said Archie Hablo, 29, whose family owns the Sincere Enterprises in Jolo town, was traveling on a motorcycle with his brother Miko late Tuesday, when the gunmen, who were riding a jeepney, blocked their path and seized the businessman.

    Hablo’s brother managed to run and escape and reported the incident to authorities.

    “There is an ongoing operation and police forces have been deployed to track down Hablo,” Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita, provincial police chief, told The Times.

    No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but authorities suspect that the Abu Sayyaf was behind the incident.

    There was no immediate statement from the town mayor Kabir Hayudini about the latest abduction.

    Recently, gunmen, believed to be Abu Sayyaf rebels, also abducted Dr. Salladin Teo and Wilfred Ngo in the island-town of Siasi. Two others who were abducted along with them—Bernal Joe and Absuwal Sasapan—were recovered by policemen in Tagbak village in Indanan town on October 16, a day after the abduction.

    It was unknown whether the abductions were carried out by the same group, but the Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreigners kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province and Sulu. The Abu Sayyaf rebels have been largely blamed for many ransom kidnappings in the southern region. AL JACINTO

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