Kidnapped Zamboanga trader freed, but captors hold on to boyfriend

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A Filipina trader who was kidnapped along with her boyfriend in Zamboanga City has been freed in the southern Philippine town of Talipao, police said on Friday.

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Police said Nancy Gonato, 38, was released on Thursday afternoon, but the fate of Ronnie San Diego, 50, remains unknown. The couple was kidnapped in April 7 inside a private wharf in the coastal village of Baliwasan where the duo runs a buying station for lobsters and other marine products.

It was not immediately known whether ransom was paid for the freedom of the woman, but the kidnappers had previously demanded P10 million in exchange for the victims.

Mayor Hussin Amin of Jolo town said that Gonato was freed in Talipao town and was then taken to the provincial hospital for medical examination shortly after meeting with government leaders and police and military commanders in Jolo.

“Our security is tight in Jolo town,” Amin said.

The couple owns a company called Ocean World Marine Products in Zamboanga City. The local police said at least 5 gunmen were involved in the kidnappings and the motive of could be connected to the couple’s business and huge debts.

It was not immediately known whether the captors are members of the Abu Sayyaf which has been blamed by authorities for the spate of kidnappings for ransom in southern Philippines.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for kidnapping of the couple which occurred barely a month after the Abu Sayyaf freed a kidnapped Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell in exchange for P4 million ransom.

Rodwell was seized by 5 gunmen, who posed as policemen, from his seaside house in Ipil town just outside Zamboanga City in December 2011. AL JACINTO

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