MANILA – The way the armed men abducted Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Teresita Flor was similar to past attacks of the Abu Sayyaf, according to Igacos Mayor Aniano Antalan.
Although New People’s Army rebels allegedly claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, Antalan believed that the captors could possibly be Abu Sayyaf bandits instead.
“In their note they claimed they’re NPA but they have no means of pulling off such kidnapping. They’re also not known to use pump boats,” he said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, adding that the Abu Sayyaf was known for using pump boats.
Antalan was referring to a piece of paper found near the vicinity of Holiday Oceanview Marina, where the foreigners and Filipina were kidnapped. Supposedly left by the gunmen, the note stated that the kidnapping was ‘in retaliation for the death of the suspects’ commander.’
Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado, for his part, disclosed that they could not yet confirm that the captors were indeed Abu Sayyaf men.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government issued a travel ban to Davao region, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other nearby Mindanao provinces due to ‘serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping’ following the incident.
“Bombings, shootings and kidnappings have occurred on public transportation, at airports, in shopping malls and in other public areas. Foreigners and places frequented by foreigners have been targeted. Explosive devices continue to be discovered by security authorities,” the advisory read.
“If you are visiting or living in this region despite this advisory, review your security situation regularly and take appropriate precautions, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners,” it further read.