World Bulletin / News Desk
Security forces killed two members of a kidnap gang and arrested six others in a Monday morning raid on their hideout in a city in the southern Philippines.
Police chief Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro told reporters that a joint army and police security operation swooped on the kidnappers' den on the west coast of Zamboanga City -- a majority Christian city in the Muslim south -- and the two suspects were shot dead while resisting arrest.
It was not immediately clear if the gang are members of the Abu Sayyaf, but Casimiro said they are looking into the involvement of the group and investigating those arrested for criminal activities.
"Seized from their possession and control were four Caliber. 45 pistols with magazines and ammunition, and three fragmentation hand grenades," Casimiro added.
The raid also resulted in the arrest of a suspected defector from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the wounding of a police officer.
The MILF signed a March 27 peace agreement with the government, which grants Muslim areas greater political autonomy in exchange for an end to armed rebellion, but other rebel factions -- including Abu Sayyaf -- continue to fight on.
Casimiro said that such lawless groups are targeting people in the public eye for abduction, and intelligence officers for assassination after several police operations led to the apprehension of kidnappers.
Abu Sayyaf kidnapping activities are common in the western part of the Muslim autonomous region of Mindanao, in the country's deep south. Victims are predominantly Christian, but Chinese businessmen and foreigners -- both Muslim and non-Muslim -- have also been targeted.
Ransom has recently been paid to secure the release of the son of a Zamboanga gasoline station owner, and last month a schoolteacher abducted in December was also released. Abu Sayyaf militants have also set free a school principal abducted in Sumisip town who was held captive for a few days.
Sumisip is a remote village of Basilan province, one of two Abu Sayyaf strongholds along with Jolo island in the deep south.
Abu Sayyaf is fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao and has been blamed for some of the worst "terror" attacks in the Philippines' history.
It has been linked to Al-Qaeda and has beheaded hostages in the past. In December 2013, it kidnapped Baker Atyani, a Jordanian journalist in December 2013. He was freed in January this year.
Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped Americans Guillermo Sobero and Martin and Gracia Burnham from the Dos Palmas resort on the island of Palawan in 2001.
They were brought to Jolo, where Sobero was later beheaded. Martin was shot dead during a military rescue operation in 2002 while Gracia was unhurt and rescued.Last Mod: 14 Nisan 2014, 13:14