Suspected Abu Sayyaf kidnap Indian in Philippines

June 23, 2011

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) — Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen kidnapped an Indian man in a southern Philippine province where authorities are also trying to find a Malaysian truck driver abducted last month, police said Thursday.

At least four Abu Sayyaf militants took Biju Kolara Veettil at gunpoint late Wednesday from a house in the coastal town of Patikul, where he and his Filipino wife were visiting her relatives, deputy Sulu provincial police Amil Baanan said.

Policemen were trying to locate Veettil, 36, in the hinterlands of mountainous Patikul, where the militants were believed to have taken him, regional police official Felicisimo Khu said.

The al Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf are also suspected of kidnapping Mohammad Nazarudin bin Saidin in Indanan town, where he was collecting geckos for trading. His Abu Sayyaf captors have reportedly demanded a huge ransom from his family in Malaysia.

The Abu Sayyaf, an armed group with about 400 fighters, has been blamed for numerous kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. It remains without a central leader after several of its top commanders were killed or captured in U.S.-backed Philippine offensives in recent years.

Desperate for funds, the Abu Sayyaf has turned to kidnappings for ransom and other acts of banditry in Sulu and the nearby islands of Basilan, Tawi Tawi and the Zamboanga Peninsula.