MANILA, Philippines—Philippine government forces were searching for a town’s vice mayor Wednesday after her family reported that she has been abducted outside a shopping mall in the country’s restive south, where a series of kidnappings has set off a security alarm.
Police Senior Superintendent Diomarie Albarico said the husband of Arsina Nanoh reported that she was abducted by unidentified men Tuesday near a shopping mall in the bustling port city of Zamboanga.
Nanoh is the vice mayor of Hadji Muhtamad town in nearby Basilan province, police said.
Albarico said Alnajil Nanoh told investigators that his wife called late Tuesday and said she was abducted outside a Zamboanga city mall and was being held blindfolded in a room by unidentified men.
No group has claimed responsibility nor demanded a ransom, Albarico said, adding investigators were trying to determine if the reported abduction was linked to Nanoh’s work or business.
Nanoh’s election victory last year was being contested by a rival. She is also a gold jewelry trader, according to Albarico.
A number of kidnappings for ransom, mostly blamed on Abu Sayyaf militants, have occurred in the south.
Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen abducted a public school teacher, Alrashid Jahang, Wednesday afternoon on nearby Jolo island in Sulu province despite a security alert due to recent kidnappings in the region.
Jahang was travelling on a motorcycle to Jolo town when about a dozen Abu Sayyaf militants led by a young commander, Aljini Mundoc, stopped and dragged him at gunpoint toward hinterland in Sulu’s mountainous Patikul town, marine Capt. Ryan Lacuesta said.
Marines and police were tracking the militants and their captive, he said.
On Monday, gunmen abducted two children, their nanny and a driver on the way to school in Jolo, sparking concerns among parents, school officials and residents.
Abu Sayyaf militants still hold several captives in their jungle camps in Sulu, including two European bird watchers who were kidnapped two years ago.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is listed by the U.S. as a terrorist group, is notorious for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings. It is one of at least three armed Islamic groups not participating in a peace deal the Philippine government expects to sign this month with the main insurgent group in the south, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.