Updated: 02/16/2014 22:20 | By Agence France-Presse

Engineer, wife kidnapped in southern Philippines

Suspected Islamic militants kidnapped an engineer and his wife in a southern Philippine island Sunday, the latest in a rash of kidnappings in the volatile south.


Engineer, wife kidnapped in southern Philippines

Photo taken on September 21, 2009 by Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) shows Filipino soldiers raising the national flag at an Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf camp in Indanan town Jolo, Mindanao island after it was over-run - by AFP

Bonifacio Salinas and his wife Claire were abducted just outside their home on Jolo island by men believed by security officials to be members of the Abu Sayyaf, which once received funding from Al Qaeda.

Abu Sayyaf is also holding two European tourists and a Japanese man on Jolo.

Local Marine spokesman Captain Ryan Lacuesta said the couple had just returned home on a tricycle when they were seized.

Six armed men approached the couple and forced them to board a jeep, he said.

No group has claimed responsibility, but previous kidnappings in the area were blamed on the Abu Sayyaf.

The couple worked for the local water utility and the motive could be ransom, Lacuesta said.

The Abu Sayyaf, founded in the 1990s, is a small group of militants that is blamed for the country's worst attacks, including bombings and kidnappings. 

It has kidnapped foreigners, businessmen and priests in exchange for ransom.

The group is holding Dutchman Ewold Horn and Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, who were seized while bird-watching in February 2012. It is also holding Amer Mamaito Katayama, a Japanese who has lived in the south and was kidnapped in July 2010.

Philippine troops have been searching for the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo's thick jungle terrain over the past decade with the help of US troops providing intelligence support.

But the group has been able to survive by hiding out in poor Muslim communities that have for years become a fertile ground for young militant recruits, analysts say.

Last week the military said it killed six Abu Sayyaf militants in an assault on Jolo.

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